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Washington Nationals rookie ace Stephen Strasburg may need Tommy John surgery

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Washington Nationals rookie sensation Stephen Strasburg may need season-ending Tommy John surgery to replace a torn elbow ligament is his throwing arm.

Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo said Strasburg will get a second opinion from another doctor Friday, but emphasized that the team wants to pursue treatment as soon as possible. If Strasburg undergoes surgery, his season would be over.

‘It’s depressing in a sense, but I look at the brighter side,’ Rizzo told Bloomberg News. ‘I look at Tommy John surgery as a surgery that we’ve had great success at. We’ve got a big, powerful, young 22-year-old right-handed pitcher with power stuff. The success rate for guys coming back from Tommy John and retaining that stuff is very good.’

[Updated, 2:01 p.m.: During a televised news conference Friday, the pitcher seemed resigned to the fact that he would have to undergo surgery. ‘I’ve got to let it go,’ Strasburg said. ‘I’ve just got to move on and that’s what I’m doing. This obviously is a test for me.’]

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Strasburg is considered one of baseball’s young stars. He has a 100-mph fastball and he struck out a record 41 batters in his first four major league starts. He’s recorded a 5-3 record and a 2.91 earned-run average since making his major league debut in June.

Unfortunately, Strasburg has also been on the disabled list twice. Strasburg tore his elbow ligament during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday. The injury was initially diagnosed as a strained ligament.

If he has surgery, Strasburg could be out until August or September next year. There’s also a chance he could not play again until April 2012.

Strasburg signed a four-year deal worth a record $15 million after he was drafted by the Nationals in 2009.

Tommy John surgery is named after former Dodgers pitcher Tommy John, who underwent the procedure successfully in 1974.

-- Austin Knoblauch



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