WASHINGTON -- Former Major League pitcher Tommy John is against Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg being shut down after his Sept. 12 start against the Mets.
After having elbow reconstruction in late 2010 and coming back late last year, Strasburg is on an innings limit in 2012. He is expected to pitch between 160 to 180 innings this year.
The plan to shut down Strasburg has been in place since last year. The team had a similar plan for Jordan Zimmermann last year, and he's developed into one of the club's best pitchers.
But John sees it differently. He was the first player in Major League history to have elbow reconstructive surgery. As a member of the Dodgers, John had the procedure done in September 1974 by Dr. Frank Jobe. When John returned to Major League action in 1976, he never missed a start. He then followed that up with three 20-win seasons and appeared in a combined three World Series with the Dodgers and Yankees after surgery.
"I think it's wrong, but that is my opinion," John said via telephone. "They could shut [Strasburg] down all year for all I care. Maybe [Nationals general manager] Mike Rizzo should go to the Atlanta Braves school of shutting pitchers down, because they have the guy [Kris] Medlen. He is going to be able to pitch because they have the foresight to pitch him out of the bullpen during the first couple of months of the season. Now they have him for the rest of the year. They worked their plan better than Rizzo and [agent] Scott Boras worked their plan."
Medlen, unlike Strasburg, has been used in a relief role in both the Major and Minor Leagues throughout his career.
"The Tommy John surgery is a secondary factor in this," Braves manager Frank Wren said about Medlen. "The primary factor was that the most innings he had ever thrown in a year in his career was 120-something. Our normal progression with any of our pitchers is about 150-160 innings. So we wanted to limit that. All of our staff meetings in Spring Training were predicated on those numbers and how we best utilize him."
John said there is no guarantee that Strasburg is going to be healthy after he is shut down. John gave the example of Yankees right-hander Joba Chamberlain, who was limited his rookie year and he ended up having Tommy John surgery in 2011.
"Dr. Jobe told me the longer you pitch -- post-surgery -- without setbacks or any problems, the farther you are from having arm problems again."
Dr. James Andrews, who did not perform Strasburg's surgery, agreed with the Nats' decision when he appeared on ESPN Radio two weeks ago.
"He's such a young pitcher, such a tremendous talent, and I think prevention and being careful with these high-level pitchers is certainly admirable," Andrews said. "So I would certainly take up for the decision. And I don't know first-hand -- there's probably a lot of intangibles that helped them make that decision. But I don't think you can criticize that one bit, to be honest with you.
"If you look at the injury rates on re-dos for Tommy Johns, the highest injury rates they have is during the second year, when they're coming back and really back up at top form and throwing and getting fatigued," Andrews continued. "So I think that's a bold step, but it's probably protective for him and for his long-term career, which is always more important than anything else, particularly in a high-level pitcher like that, and a young pitcher."
If John was in Strasburg's shoes, how would he feel about missing the postseason?
"I would be [upset]. As well as the other 24 guys. It's just like saying, 'Thanks for working guys, but we are going to take Strasburg and shut him down.' ... I understand. He is a valuable asset ... but it doesn't mean you are going to make his career longer."
Nats recall outfielder Brown for stretch run
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals recalled outfielder Corey Brown from Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday. It is Brown's third stint in the big leagues this year. He went a combined 3-for-16 (.188) with a home run and two RBIs in the big leagues.
While in the International League, Brown ranked among league leaders in most offensive categories with 83 runs (first), nine triples (second), 25 home runs (second) and a .523 slugging percentage (second). Brown, 26, posted a .285 batting average and 18 stolen bases in 126 games with the Chiefs.
Brown had motivation to have a good year in 2012. He was taken off the 40-man roster after last season and wanted to show the Nationals that he could stay healthy and be productive. In 2011, Brown acknowledged that he put too much pressure on himself. He also suffered an ankle injury and a staph infection.
"It was a lot that hovered over me," Brown said. "As the season went on, I struggled and started to put pressure on myself. This season, I got taken off the 40-man and I realized that I had to put last year behind me and concentrate first on my health. ... I was able to get a lot of confidence back. In the spring, I felt like I did really well. And I think that helped going into the season, which I believed I lacked last year. This year, I was able to contribute to my best season."
Harper sits as Johnson gets Moore some at-bats
WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson decided to sit outfielder Bryce Harper and start Tyler Moore in left field on Tuesday. Johnson simply wants to give Moore some playing time. Since the beginning of August, Moore has received 33 at-bats.
Harper has been one of the most productive position players on the Nationals lately, going 13-for-41 (.317) with two home runs and six RBIs in his last 10 games.
"I'm trying to find ways to get playing time [for some of the guys]. Their playing time has been cut short. I want to get Tyler Moore in," Johnson said. "With Harp, I kind of run him into the ground. I'm sure he is not tired. I think he was a little tired on Sunday [against the Cardinals], for some reason. He felt great yesterday against the Cubs."
Right fielder Jayson Werth will also get the day off on Wednesday, Johnson said.
The Nationals reinstated right-handed pitcher Chien-Ming Wang from the 15-day disabled list. Wang, who missed the last 58 games with a right hip strain, is 2-3 with a 7.61 ERA in seven games/four starts with Washington this season. The 32-year-old went a combined 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA during 15 Minor League rehab outings in 2012.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Braves beat reporter Mark Bowman contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.