December 07, 2016

OXON HILL, Md. (AP) Stephen Strasburg's agent, Scott Boras, said the right-hander's latest throwing arm injury should not create any problems in the future.

''I just go by what the doctors tell me - I'm not a medical practitioner - but they're all telling me that Stephen will be fine and this is something ... that just needed a period of time for it to heal,'' Boras told reporters Wednesday at baseball's winter meetings.

''They don't foresee anything,'' Boras added, ''that would cause him any form of impairment going forward.''

The 28-year-old Strasburg missed the end of the 2016 season for the NL East champions after hurting his right elbow in early September.

Washington initially hoped he would be available for the playoffs, but then ruled him out for the NL Division Series. Even if the Nationals had reached the NL Championship Series - they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 of the NLDS - Strasburg would not have been able to pitch.

Asked Tuesday whether he would change anything about the way he manages Strasburg, Nationals skipper Dusty Baker replied: ''No. I mean, I thought we handled him pretty good this year. Just some things happened. So we'll see how he is. If there's anything I'm curious about, it's how he is going into spring training. We have to see how he is, first, before we assess how we'll handle him. I'm hoping that it's all subsided.''

General manager Mike Rizzo said Tuesday: ''Stephen Strasburg's healthy and preparing for spring training.''

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 amateur draft had Tommy John surgery in August 2011, then was shut down by the Nationals late in 2012 to protect his repaired elbow.

This season, he started 13-0 with a 2.51 ERA, and in the midst of that stretch signed a $175 million, seven-year contract that begins next year. He went on the DL with elbow soreness in August after allowing 19 earned runs in 11 2/3 innings over three outings, then left his first start back in the third inning and did not pitch again.

Strasburg's final stats for 2016 were 15-4 with a 3.60 ERA and 183 strikeouts in only 147 2/3 innings.

''He's in the process of still learning himself and learning his body. And so I just don't want to get too far ahead of myself,'' Baker said. ''I get to see all those guys on Friday and tap `em on the stomach and tap `em on the butt. ... They don't know what I'm doing. They think I'm saying, `Hello.' But I'm really checking for fat content, to see how much eating they can continue to do over the holidays.''

Notes: Boras would not offer much information on a hot topic during these winter meetings: The contract status of Nationals RF Bryce Harper, who can become a free agent after the 2018 season. ''I have not had any discussions with the Nationals on Bryce, other than we're going to get around to talking about his arbitration-value contract for the upcoming year,'' Boras said. ''But other than that, we haven't had any talks.'' As for the 2015 NL MVP's drop-off in production last season, Boras said: ''Certainly Bryce played through some nagging injuries. Not anything that was of permanence. And a lot of time, when ... you have a strained muscle, it affects your neck and what you're doing and things. But I don't think Bryce is the kind who wants to come out and talk about excuses.'' ... Rizzo said SS Danny Espinosa will play for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. ... Boras said free agent Stephen Drew, who hit .266 in 143 at-bats as a utilityman for Washington this year, is mulling offers that would allow him to have an everyday role next season.

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