Stephen Strasburg has significant UCL tear, will likely require Tommy John surgery

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Well, this is just about the worst-case scenario for Nationals fans.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo just announced that Stephen Strasburg will likely require Tommy John surgery after Thursday’s arthogram revealed a “significant tear” of the ulnar collateral ligament in his his right elbow.

Rizzo said the team believes the injury was “acute” and happened on one pitch, reports Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.

It sure sounds like he is headed for surgery, but Kilgore writes that he will receive a second opinion from Dr. Lewis Yocum, the same doctor who performed Tommy John surgery on Jordan Zimmermann.

Recovery time from Tommy John surgery is approximately 12-18 months, so we’ll almost certainly have to wait until 2012 until we see Strasburg again. The silver lining is that there are several examples of pitchers who have gone on to enjoy success after Tommy John surgery. Still, it’s a sobering and disappointing end to one of the most impressive debuts in recent memory. Let’s hope he doesn’t become yet another cautionary tale.

Bryce Harper will not be discussing his impending free agency with the media

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Bryce Harper is entering his walk year and it is widely expected that the Scott Boras client will, indeed, test out free agency next fall rather than engage in any substantial way with the Washington Nationals about a contract extension. There were some “casual conversations” between the parties in the early fall of 2017, but the Nats came away from that, quite reasonably, believing that Harper, who stands to land the largest contract in baseball history, will shop around.

For his part, Harper met the media on his first day of spring training workouts and let everyone know that, no, he does not plan to answer questions about his potential free agency every day between now and November. From MASN:

“Just want to let you guys know I will not be discussing anything relative to 2019, at all,” said Harper. “I’m focused on this year. I’m focused on winning and playing hard, like every single year. So if you guys have any questions about anything after 2018, you can call Scott and he can answer you guys.”

Makes sense. The alternative would be for Harper to give the same canned “I’m only focused on our next game” responses in front of his locker 150 times this summer, and that doesn’t serve anyone.

Thinking back to any other impending free agent’s comments about his free agency, I can’t remember a story along those lines which was worth much of anything. The genre generally consists of headlines which oversell an innocuous or offhand comment from a player as a means of guessing where his head is at with respect to his current team. I can’t think of any story in which a player, during his walk year, said something that concretely and definitively signaled his intensions in free agency one way or the other.

Reporters covering the Nationals who are curious as to how Harper feels about his current team at any given time would be better served just observing and inferring, with particular attention paid to how Harper and his teammates view the Nats’ competitive position as the season goes on, how they react to trades and stuff like that. There’s a lot of guesswork in all of that, but it sure beats trying to get a media savvy player like Harper to admit, after going 1-for-4 against the Phillies, where he plans to spend the next seven to ten years of his professional life.