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posted: 6/7/2013 5:35 AM

Shutting down an ace doesn't always work

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  • Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who was limited to 160 innings last season to protect his arm, was placed on the 15-day disabled list this week.

      Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who was limited to 160 innings last season to protect his arm, was placed on the 15-day disabled list this week.
    Associated Press

 
By Mike North
The Rebel Inside

The Stephen Strasburg saga continues.

When Washington Nationals general manager, Mike Rizzo decided to shut down his ace pitcher last year after Strasburg pitched 160 innings -- and missed the team's playoff run -- I was sure it would blow up in their faces.

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You just can't predict the future, and now Strasburg is on the 15-day disabled list, the Nationals are around a .500 ballclub and eight games out of first place in the National League East.

While they also have other key injuries on that team, including stud outfielder Bryce Harper with a bad knee, Strasburg is the poster boy for an organizational policy that monitored his health and implemented a procedure to avoid potential injuries.

I don't think it worked.

We actually saw a similar scenario with Kerry Wood, the Chicago Cubs fan favorite. If Wood had a stiff neck or a pinch in his arm, he was immediately shut down. The Cubs even had him fly back to Chicago a few times because they wanted to treat his ailments here.

There is no doubt the Cubs did everything to protect him to extend his career, but at the end of the day Wood, unfortunately, was simply damaged goods and it appears Strasburg is looking that way, too.

Sometimes no matter what you do, or how you handle injuries or what your philosophy is to address them, there is nothing you can do to prevent them.

It all brings me to our own head case -- Derrick Rose, the one-time MVP for the Chicago Bulls.

In my world, it's 50-50 whether Rose will play 60 games next year. I am worried about what will happen when Rose feels a pinch in his knee. My guess is brother Reggie Rose, agent B.J. Armstrong and Team Rose will shut him down.

Now that might be OK because we really just want him ready to go for the playoffs. The NBA is a long tedious season, and guys sit all the time.

The Nationals should have shut down Strasburg during the regular season last year more frequently so he would have been ready for the playoffs.

One thing for sure -- if your ace pitcher can't take the mound every four or five days, your team doesn't have much of a chance. Just ask Dusty Baker about when he managed the Cubs. Once Wood and Mark Prior were experiencing more frequent injuries, Baker never knew if they would be ready to pitch, and you can't win that way.

Rizzo's plan of predicting or trying to prevent injury seems to have failed. Mike Rizzo is finding out it is a losing proposition, and I am praying that won't happen to Rose.

When your handlers are as concerned and scared as the player, there are going to be issues. My hope is D-Rose is ready by the playoffs next season.

Program note:

Watch me on "Mancow" on WPWR Ch. 50 at 6 a.m. Friday, Monday and Wednesday.

• Mike North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at dailyherald.com. For more, visit northtonorth.com.

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