Nats' Strasburg: 'Numbness in my whole hand' led to surgery

FILE - Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg, right, walks with a member of the training staff as he heads to the dugout after leaving the game during the first inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles in Baltimore, in this Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, file photo. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, that Strasburg is in preparation mode not in rehabilitation mode at spring training after having surgery in 2020. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)
FILE - Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg, right, walks with a member of the training staff as he heads to the dugout after leaving the game during the first inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles in Baltimore, in this Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, file photo. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, that Strasburg is in preparation mode not in rehabilitation mode at spring training after having surgery in 2020. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The nerve issue in Stephen Strasburg's right wrist that ended his 2020 season after five innings would get aggravated every time he threw a baseball, he said Sunday, and “basically would go from numbness in my thumb to numbness in my whole hand.”

Speaking to reporters for the first time since before he was shut down in August, the Washington Nationals ace said the problem went away immediately after the 15-minute carpal tunnel surgery.

“I haven't had any residual effects from it. ... I think, if anything, all the work I’ve done strengthening it has only improved the movement of my pitches," Strasburg said.

The 2019 World Series MVP began preparing for this season much earlier than usual, doing a light catch on Nov. 1 instead of mid-December, and throwing bullpens early in January instead of late in the month.

“Endurance-wise, stamina-wise, I feel like I’m a lot further along than I have (been) in years past,” he said. “I wanted to give myself some extra time to work through some mechanical things and be ready to go on Day One.”

That he was: The 32-year-old was throwing off a mound alongside teammates during Friday’s workout.

“He’s one of our workhorses. And not to see him out there was tough. But for me, if he was ever going to get hurt and ever fix an issue, last year would’ve been the time,” manager Dave Martinez said. “I’m glad he got it fixed, and I’m glad he feels great.”

Strasburg said the stop-start nature of last year’s pandemic-affected schedule — spring training was stopped in March, then teams resumed preparations in July — was tough on his arm.