Stephen Strasburg, who felt a “pop” in his elbow on August 21 and underwent Tommy John surgery two weeks later, has started throwing again.
It’s just the first step on the year-plus road to recovery and Strasburg is still nowhere near getting back on a mound yet, but Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that the former No. 1 overall pick “was so excited to be able to toss a ball.”
The best-case scenario for Strasburg would likely involve making a few low-pressure appearances in September, but the Nationals have no reason to rush him back for that if he suffers any kind of setback or simply needs a bit more time than the ahead-of-schedule Tommy John survivors who’ve come back in less than 12 months. In some cases it takes 18 months to return to game action and as pitchers like Francisco Liriano have shown even then it often takes significantly longer before surgically repaired arms start to feel like their old self again.
José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.
Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”
In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”
Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”
Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:
Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”
I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.