Strasburg to undergo Tommy John Surgery

C.J. Lawrence | 8/28/2010, 9:44 a.m.
Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg. Photo By John E. DeFreitas...

Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg.
Photo By John E. DeFreitas

Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg has a torn ligament in his pitching arm, and will miss the next 12 to 18 months as he undergoes Tommy John surgery. The tear is in Strasburg's ulnar collateral ligament, and has caused the right handed starter pain in his arm in his last two starts.

"It was kind of a shock to me. I really didn't feel anything. It's good that it happened in a way, instead of when we are going to the postseason or getting ready for the World Series," Strasburg said during a news conference.
Before undergoing surgery, Strasburg will get a second opinion before he and the Nationals staff make a final decision.

"We feel there is a significant tear and there is going to be Tommy John surgery," said Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo.

Tommy John surgery, named after the former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher who was the first to successfully undergo the surgery in 1974, is a procedure in which the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow is replaced by a tendon from another part of the body, usually the forearm, hamstring or knee.

John achieved full recovery after the procedure, and pitched until the age of 46. The surgery has become commonplace among pitchers, and many have returned to successful careers, some even claiming that they were able to throw harder after the procedure. National's pitcher Jordan Zimmermann recently returned to the team after having the procedure himself last year.

Strasburg was the Nationals first pick in the 2009 draft, and has been described as a phenom by the team, the media and fans alike. Nationals' attendance more than doubles when Strasburg is on the mound, and in his first 12 starts, he has a record of 5-3 with an ERA of 2.91 with 92 strikeouts. His fastball often tops 100 mph on the radar gun.

"It's a new challenge. I want to be the best in everything," Strasburg added.

" Right now, I want to be the best at rehabbing and get back."