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Strasburg hopeful chiropractor will fix shoulder issue

May 6, 2015, 12:11 AM EDT


The sight of Stephen Strasburg grimacing after throwing several pitches Tuesday night, then being visited on the mound by a trainer, then being pulled after three ragged but hardly awful innings could not have been comforting to the Nationals or to fans who understandably fear the worst anytime something appears to physically be wrong with the right-hander.

Strasburg and the Nationals, though, gave the impression after Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the Marlins that this latest ailment — discomfort under his shoulder blade — can be corrected with chiropractic work and isn’t a true shoulder or elbow injury that would be fair greater cause for concern.

“I think it’s something where I just need to get an adjustment, or something like that,” Strasburg said. “The best way I can put it: You’re driving a car fast over speed bumps. The irritation kind of rattles the cage a little bit.”

Strasburg is scheduled to visit a chiropractor Wednesday, something he admitted he’s done in the past. For now, the Nationals do not appear to believe this is an injury that would require a trip to the disabled list.

“I don’t think we make that decision yet,” manager Matt Williams said. “He’s perfectly fine otherwise. He’s had issues in the past with feeling something in his low back, or something like that. I wouldn’t imagine that’s serious, but we’ll have to see what the results tell us.”

Whatever the severity of this ailment proves to be, Strasburg clearly didn’t look comfortable on the mound Tuesday night. After waiting out a 28-minute rain delay before the game could commence, he grimaced several times after throwing pitches in the first inning, then again in the top of the second.

Strasburg said later the discomfort was noticeable when he tried to throw pitches away to right-handed batters, in to left-handed batters. It wasn’t an issue when throwing to the other side of the plate. He admitted feeling this during his last start in New York, though it was worse this time.

“It just kind of caused me to alter my mechanics a little too much, and [I] lost some command from it,” he said.

That side effect — altered mechanics — is what concerned the Nationals the most. If Strasburg was trying to compensate for the shoulder blade issue, he could cause more strain on his shoulder joint or elbow, and that could lead to a significant injury.

Williams and head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz did come to the mound to check on Strasburg after he bounced a throw to first base on a routine sacrifice bunt attempt in the top of the second. He insisted them he could continue to pitch, and they acquiesced. (Strasburg wound up retiring three straight batters to end the inning.)

Strasburg faced five more batters in the top of the third, issuing a walk and allowing a groundball single but otherwise keeping the Marlins from scoring again. But after he returned to the dugout, having thrown 64 pitches, he was told his night was over.

“His pitch count got really high, got up there, and he was more and more uncomfortable with it as he went through the last inning,” Williams said. “Then when he got back in there, we decided we’re not gonna take that chance.”

There weren’t many obvious indications of Strasburg being less than 100 percent healthy. His fastball averaged 95 mph, his changeup 88 mph, his curveball 80 mph (all perfectly in line with his typical velocity so far this season).

His command, though, wasn’t as crisp as it usually is. And his physical reactions to certain pitches suggested something wasn’t right.

“His stuff was electric,” second baseman Dan Uggla said. “He wasn’t hitting his spots — that kind of was a telltale sign — but man, he came out firing bullets. … The most important thing for us is we get him healthy, and not do any more damage than hopefully was done.”

The next step for Strasburg is unclear at this point. He’ll be examined by the chiropractor on Wednesday. At some point, the Nationals will have to decide whether he’s cleared to make his next scheduled start (Monday at Arizona).

“I think it’s probably just something that [for] one reason or another probably creeps up in there sometimes,” he said. “I’ve just got to get it fixed and hopefully get back out there for the next one.”

  1. Section 222 - May 6, 2015 at 12:13 AM

    MNF called it after all. You should send the name of your chiro to Stras.

  2. scmargenau - May 6, 2015 at 1:48 AM

    Just get rid of him. He’s nothing but a constant headache

    • nats1924 - May 6, 2015 at 8:23 AM

      I agree. We shoulda traded hm to Boston for anything

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 6, 2015 at 9:04 AM

        He’s no Levale Speigner, I’ll grant you that.

    • adcwonk - May 6, 2015 at 9:14 AM

      Good point. Granted, he did lead the Nats in innings pitched last year, was their youngest starter, and won 14 games — but, hey, we won the division by 17 anyway. Who needs ‘im?

      (snark mode=off)

      • adcwonk - May 6, 2015 at 9:18 AM

        … and finished top 10 in the NL last year for: IP, WHIP, Cy Young, K/9 IP

        and finished 1st in NL for K’s & games started

        Just sayin’

      • Eric - May 6, 2015 at 10:30 AM

        But but but, his demeanor’s all wrong, and I will not stand for that!

      • adcwonk - May 6, 2015 at 10:33 AM


      • scmargenau - May 7, 2015 at 3:41 AM

        Stats that don’t matter much. Guy just fees like a constant issue. Htotal opposite of Rooark. I could be wrong.

      • adcwonk - May 7, 2015 at 9:33 AM

        “Stats that don’t matter much. Guy just fees like a constant issue.”

        An interesting statement — what it “feels like” vs his actual performance 😉

    • Guapo - May 6, 2015 at 10:21 AM

      I thought for sure Stras would have been dealt after the Scherzer signing. Between his health and his head, he’s simply not an ace. Would have been nice to deal him for an elite closer. Rizzo has done many good things for the Nats, but he seems to be reluctant to sell players at their height of value. Stras is one case, Desmond is the other. I’d have dealt #20 during the All Star game he made. That was a joke.

      • scmargenau - May 7, 2015 at 3:43 AM

        I agree. I love desi… But dealing is the right move for this team. Same for Stras and zim

  3. homeparkdc - May 6, 2015 at 2:43 AM

    On the earlier thread, I posted about the presence of RG3 at the game. Now I see there’s an article in WaPo.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 6, 2015 at 8:57 AM

      Is he going yo be at the WW softball game?

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 6, 2015 at 9:09 AM

        Let’s try that again.

        Will RGIII be participating in the Wounded Warrior/NFL softball event?

      • homeparkdc - May 6, 2015 at 9:23 AM

        Don’t care what he does as long as he doesn’t wear the Nats insignia !! In the article, he was blamed, rightly or wrongly, for Stras’s early exit. Now, I’m burning incense and candles, and counting from 13 to zero repeatedly to ward off any jinx associated with 13-15. To each his own, I guess.

    • Serious Jammage - May 6, 2015 at 10:06 AM

      After seeing Stras leave hurt, RG III there, and our bats get sick, this was my morning routine…

      • scmargenau - May 7, 2015 at 3:45 AM

        Lollolololol I love it!

  4. laddieblahblah - May 6, 2015 at 6:28 AM

    That shoulder may explain that terrible throw to 1b.

  5. nats1924 - May 6, 2015 at 6:33 AM

    How much will stras reel in when a free agent next year?

    3/30M ?

    • bowdenball - May 6, 2015 at 8:38 AM


      I’m glad we’ve finally gotten to the point where people poke fun at the ridiculous anti-Strasburg sentiment among Nats fans with sarcastic posts like this one. Well played.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 6, 2015 at 9:06 AM

        Bb, some of us – ok, most of us – have been laughing and pointing at them all along.

  6. Candide - May 6, 2015 at 7:00 AM


    Has a REAL doctor looked at it yet? Or is this a case of the patient’s worst enemy – self-diagnosis?

    • ICYMI - May 6, 2015 at 10:43 AM

      Of course. Dr. Weimi “Doogie” Howser, MD. Next step, who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters.

  7. rabbit433 - May 6, 2015 at 7:09 AM

    Six weeks out coming up.

    • Hiram Hover - May 6, 2015 at 9:25 AM

      We will miss you.

      • rayvil01 - May 6, 2015 at 9:43 AM

        Well played, Sir. LOL

  8. sec112 - May 6, 2015 at 8:45 AM

    Only thing worse than self-diagnosis is diagnosis via TV (or blog!). This is a team that has perhaps the best reputation in baseball for protecting the health of its pitchers. While anything having to do with the shoulder of a pitcher is not good, and a DL stint would not surprise me, I think it’s a bit early to conclude that his season (or career) is over. Lets let them take what action they think is appropriate (which I hope includes a medical examination of some sort), and see what happens. He was throwing mid to high nineties yesterday – which lends some credence to the possibility that it is not a major problem. Pitchers essentially always have some level of pain, and it’s part if their livelihood to figure out when it exceeds tolerance (and the Nats have generally had a lower tolerance than their pitchers).

    Oh – And that “headache” has been among the most effective pitchers in baseball for the last several years as has been shown here numerous times statistically. So – I’m not in a rush to see him go.

  9. Theophilus T.S. - May 6, 2015 at 8:46 AM

    From previous experience, the muscle under the shoulder blade connects to the base of the skull. This is not the kind of problem a chiropractor treats. It’s most likely caused by sleeping in an awkward position, not because of a mis-alignment of something. A chiropractor would be likely to treat it with an “electro-stim” machine, which could take forever. Medically, it would be treated with muscle relaxers and deep tissue massage. I wouldn’t be surprised if he misses a start, possibly two.

    • therealjohnc - May 6, 2015 at 11:31 AM

      FWIW, you may confusing the levator scapula muscle with the subscapularis. The levator is the muscle that connects the scapula not to the skull, but to the upper cervical vertebrae. This is the muscle that gets tight if you are clenching your shoulders a lot (source of what I call the “office worker’s knot” from sitting at a computer typing all day). The levator originates along the top middle (technically, the superior angle) border of the scapula.

      Strasburg’s issue was described as “under the shoulder blade [scapula].” That would implicate the subscapularis muscle, one of the four rotator cuff muscles (with the supraspinatis, infraspinatis and teres minor). As the name would indicate, the subscapularis originates on the underneath side of the scapula and inserts into the front part of the humerus bone at the shoulder joint. It would makes sense that a problem with this muscle would be noticeable during pitching. Another possibility would be the serratus anterior muscle, which actually connects the shoulder blade to the side and front of the ribs.

      • Eric - May 6, 2015 at 12:21 PM

        I started getting nervous around the time you said “rotator cuff.”

      • therealjohnc - May 6, 2015 at 12:54 PM

        Fair enough. To divert panic, when pitchers have “rotator cuff” problems/labrum tears it’s almost always in the area of the other three muscles, which insert into a different part of the joint.

  10. natsguy - May 6, 2015 at 9:14 AM

    It really scares me that he is even considering a chiropractor, I am also very surprised the Nats would let him.

    The worst I have ever been hurt was by a chiropractor. “Doctors” without a license.

    • ehay2k - May 6, 2015 at 9:22 AM

      Yes, because “real doctors” never do any harm.

      My chiropractor saved me from back surgery after a car accident. As with any medical treatment, your experience may vary. But if Stras like his chiro, and gets results, he should go.

      • therealjohnc - May 6, 2015 at 11:33 AM

        If Strasburg is seeing a chiro, he’s also doing it with the complete knowledge and approval of the team’s medical doctors. This is a non-issue.

  11. tcostant - May 6, 2015 at 9:45 AM

    So I was the game yesterday, and I got to tell you I think it was one of the worse managed games of the year.
    1. I’m not going to question pulling Stras, but batting a pitcher for him is stupid. I know he got a hit, it doesn’t matter. You rarely go through a game that you need to worry about all your bench players.
    2. Sammy Solis pitched great, but you need to pinch for him when a guy is on base, after he already pitched two innings. So he pitched another inning, you could have found someone in the pen to pitch the sixth inning. You need to take a chance, to get the run in.
    3. In the 8th inning, Escobar should have bunted, get Span in scoring position with two more outs to go, with only a hit need to tie the game up.
    4. Werth should have batted as a PH in the 9th, he was in the on deck circle in the 7th and not used and ignored in the 9th. Stupid.
    I’m sure there is more, but that is what I got

    • natsdial8 - May 6, 2015 at 10:02 AM

      Agree on Esco bunting

    • jd - May 6, 2015 at 10:04 AM

      I don’t agree with any of your comments.

      1) You don’t burn a pinch hitter early in games especially if the game is still close. You never know hoe many bench players you will need later in the game.

      2) You have to get as many innings out of a middle reliever as you can. One extra inning can make a difference and again the game was well in hand at the time.

      3) I don’t believe in giving away outs. Escobar has as much of a chance as anyone to get a big hit. We tried the bunt in the 9th. How did that work out for us?

      4) That’s an arbitrary comment. Moore has had good success pinch hitting.

      It’s one thing to disagree with certain strategies and I certainly disagreed with asking Uggla to bunt in the 9th but it’s another thing altogether calling decisions you don’t agree with stupid.

      • Eugene in Oregon - May 6, 2015 at 10:06 AM


      • tcostant - May 6, 2015 at 10:09 AM

        jb you must be MW brother in law or eskimo brother or something. Can’t believe you don’t agree with even one of them… Come on.

      • jd - May 6, 2015 at 10:13 AM


        For the record I am not at all a MW fan, in fact I am not sold him as our manager and felt last year that we made the wrong choice. I just feel reacted to the absolute nature of your message as if your options were obviously smarter than MW. I think every move can be questioned rationally. Just don’t call someone else’s decisions stupid.

      • tcostant - May 6, 2015 at 10:21 AM

        I think it’s okay to call someone decision or action stupid; but I would never call someone stupid. I draw the line there.

        Everyone manages the game in their head, while watching. I get that no one will agree on everything, just found it hard to beleive you agreed with none of it. Sorry, was just trying to be funny/

      • Guapo - May 6, 2015 at 10:26 AM

        Spot on JD. I’d add the following.

        – Werth was obviously unavailable last night given he didn’t hit when Moore did in the 9th. The bench was unusually short.

        – Escobar has more of a chance than the rest of the team in getting a hit. Overall the best Nats hitter thus far this season. Clutch guy as well. He’s got to swing there.

      • adcwonk - May 6, 2015 at 10:26 AM

        jb you must be MW brother in law or eskimo brother or something. Can’t believe you don’t agree with even one of them… Come on.

        My goodness!

        I happen to agree with jd on this one, on two grounds:

        1. I think there were indeed reasonable arguments on both sides of each of the issues you mentioned

        2. When there are reasonable arguments on both sides, that doesn’t mean the person on the other side of the argument is “stupid.”

        Asking Solis to go 4 or 5 innings would be stupid (if he’s not been stretched out at all this season). But letting the guy who got 5 hits the night before, who leads the team in hits — on a night when the Nats only had 2 or 3 hits — to let him hit instead of bunt is not at all unreasonable. And doing so does not make a manager “stupid.”

        get Span in scoring position with two more outs to go, with only a hit need to tie the game up.

        Yeah, well, Harper, who was up next, has one hit this month (1-for-17) so that’s not quite automatic. RZ hasn’t been doing all that much better (3-for-17). So, in fact, of all the folks in the entire lineup, I trust Esco right now to get a hit more than anybody else.

      • nats128 - May 6, 2015 at 10:27 AM

        I agree with jd (not jb)

      • ICYMI - May 6, 2015 at 10:58 AM

        There’s a technique NL managers use to get more innings out of a reliever before having to pinch hit for him. It’s called a double switch. Has MW ever done one of those? I sure can’t recall any.

    • sec112 - May 6, 2015 at 10:09 AM

      I was also there and while I don’t agree that it was among the worst managed games I’ve seen, there were some curious choices, and a couple of your points are among them.

      Pinch hitting Fister is a strange choice at that point, mostly because the pitcher position was leading off. I can’t think of a good reason to do that.

      Not sure i agree on Pinchhitting for Solis. With Gio going today in a fay game, and knowing that you’d be burning a lot of your pen, I think you’ve got to get a many innings as you can out of him. But that one’s a judgment call.

      I can’t imagine ever having one of my best hitters bunting in that situation (no outs, man on first in 8th inning of a 1-run game. So I’m firmly on the other side of that one.

      I also wondered why Werth wasn’t used, though he is batting well under .200, so it’s by no means a slam dunk.

      • sec112 - May 6, 2015 at 10:12 AM

        “Fay” should be “day”

        And to be clear, the bunting point I made was in response to the suggestion that Escobar should have been bunting. I disagree.

  12. veejh - May 6, 2015 at 9:56 AM

    I must say, Solis was real good in his relief last night. Good to see him finally break through and remain healthy.

  13. veejh - May 6, 2015 at 9:56 AM

    I must say, Solis was real good in his relief last night. Good to see him finally break through and remain healthy.

    • nats128 - May 6, 2015 at 10:16 AM

      Stanton almost got him otherwise he was very good. Just wonder if the lack of scouting is working on his side for now.

  14. nats128 - May 6, 2015 at 10:05 AM

    Our group gathers around the bullpen pre-game to watch the warmups of the starting pitchers.

    If you get the chance to see Scherzer warmup its a show in itself. He has the entire group of Matty LeCroy and the bullpen catchers and anyone else there all into it and one day I will smarten up and videotape it. I have seen others write about it and suprized that the beat writers havent caught on and written about it and what it all means as there seems to be something to it with hand gestures and signals, but I digress becuz last night Strasburgs warmup was garbage. He was throwing balls wildly and you could tell he wasnt right. Im also not his psychiatrist so I wont bore you with my diagnosis of body language etc

    • jd - May 6, 2015 at 10:09 AM


      My feeling about posters making medical or psychological comments is this:

      1) If you are a medical professional move to step 2 otherwise your comments are baseless.
      2) If you are a medical professional and have treated a player you have a right to an opinion otherwise ypur comments are baseless.

      • nats128 - May 6, 2015 at 10:14 AM

        Exactly. We have one poster here who tries to make psychological evaluations including perceived separation anxiety and a player who missed his mommy. I say that sort of tongue in cheek.

      • Candide - May 6, 2015 at 10:31 AM

        Many years ago, I saw some excellent advice along the lines of never trying to psychoanalyze someone you’ve never met.

        For some reason, I’m reminded of that advice every time I come here.

      • natsfan1a - May 6, 2015 at 11:38 AM

        Friends and family, otoh, are fair game. What?

      • natsfan1a - May 6, 2015 at 11:47 AM

        That was supposed to go with Candide’s 10:31 post. That’s now how it works. That’s not how any of this works.

      • Eric - May 6, 2015 at 10:40 AM

        Do tell us about this “one poster,” nats128. Don’t be shy!

        In any case, if the “separation anxiety” you mention is a reference to Dan Haren, that was him evaluating himself. He mentioned it once or twice throughout the season, as well as after the season had ended:

        “Loneliness was the worst part, Dan Haren said. At his lowest point, Haren walked off the Nationals Park mound to boos from home fans – “I don’t wish that upon anybody,” he said – and carried the worst ERA in the majors. His wife and two young children were at home in California. He agonized about what his teammates thought about his performance. When he went home, his house was empty, aside from him and his nasty thoughts.

        “It was really, really difficult,” Haren said. “Most guys have their families where they are, so I’m not going to bug them. The majority of my time was spent alone. Those times where I was struggling on the mound, it was really compounded by just kind of being alone. My life revolved too much around baseball. It didn’t affect how I was pitching. But it made in between pitching and after the games more difficult.””

        I personally have no idea if it played a role in his poor performance, but he sure felt it did. I’m no medical expert, so I’ll forgo opining on whether people should be evaluating their own mental state and how it affects their job 😉

      • Eric - May 6, 2015 at 10:43 AM

        Oh, I suppose at the bottom he indicates that he didn’t think it affected his performance. But, the loneliness was something he explicitly stated, it wasn’t something anyone merely inferred about his psychological state.

  15. adcwonk - May 6, 2015 at 10:32 AM

    1) You don’t burn a pinch hitter early in games especially if the game is still close. You never know hoe many bench players you will need later in the game.

    You know what’s funny — that was a little bit of a creative out-of-the-box move. Just the kind that so many here say MW is incapable of doing.

    So he does it, and there is a reasonable basis for it, and he still gets criticized. 😉

    • Eric - May 6, 2015 at 10:40 AM

      It’s like you’re posting my thoughts for me today!

  16. philipd763 - May 6, 2015 at 10:41 AM

    Tanner Roark will be an upgrade in the starting rotation. Stras’ best season was his rookie season and it’s been downhill for him ever since the TJ surgery.

    • adcwonk - May 6, 2015 at 12:25 PM

      Just in case you want any facts at all, see — but be forewarned, it will destroy your narrative.

      • scmargenau - May 7, 2015 at 4:26 AM

        If baseball was played on paper we would win every year.,

      • adcwonk - May 7, 2015 at 9:33 AM

        If baseball was played on paper we would win every year.,

        Well . . . don’t we have the most regular season wins over 2012-14?





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