Friday, October 30, 2009

A Few Minutes With Craig Stammen

After reading "Casey At The Bat" and playing catch with some of the young patients presently residing at The Children's Inn at NIH, Our Washington Nationals John Lannan and Craig Stammen stopped to take questions from a few bloggers attending yesterday's events. This provided an opportunity to have a few moments on the side with Our Number 35 to ponder a few thoughts, especially his off-season rehabilitation of his right throwing elbow. You may recall John Stammen had surgery in September and missed the final few weeks of 2009.

With that, here we go with A Few Minutes With Craig Stammen:

I find it interesting that you and John (Lannan) are both here today together because even though Lannan arrived in The Big Leagues before you, your professional careers have sort of tracked alongside each other. (SBF)

“That’s true. We were drafted one round apart from each other in 2005. We played rookie ball together. We were teammates in Vermont, Savannah and Potomac. He’s a little ahead of me in Major League time and experience, but we are friends. We know we can talk baseball and pitching. And we’ve been hanging out together some since the season ended. He asked me to join him and it was a no brainer to come here and be a part of this today."

Which actually brings me to an interesting point. In the past few years there have not been many players for The Nationals staying in the D.C. area during the off-season. A few more are now. If not for your re-hab from your surgery, would you be staying here too? (SBF)

“Yes. When you go to college and then you get put in the Minor Leagues, you really don’t have a place to call your own. So, when you finally get to the Big Leagues and get a place where you will probably be for a while, it’s good to stick your name out in the community, see what you can do, and give back from this great opportunity we have to play baseball. Why not?”

So, what was it like for you to be in Washington, D.C. for your rookie season? (SBF)

“Truly, it was an exceptional experience. For me, it was a blessing, a dream come true and all those superlative adjectives you can give to it. Right now, it’s all just starting to sink in, that first year in the Big Leagues. But now I need to look forward and get a lot of work done to be able to stick around and help turn this team around into an winner.”

Let’s talk about your rehab? (SBF)

“Everything is on schedule. I am feeling real good. I started throwing this past Monday and I will keep throwing all the way to spring training. Right now, I couldn’t have asked for better help than I have had with Liz Wheeler, who is our physical therapist, Lee Kuntz (Head Trainer) and the doctors. It’s going great.

Do you think you will be able to throw harder? (SBF)

“Maybe. (laughing) Hope so! I had some years of wear and tear built up, now everything is clean and ready to go.”

Can you explain exactly what happened to you and why you needed surgery? (SBF)

“I had a bone spur taken out of my back elbow and a bone chip taken out of the front. What happened throughout the course of the season was that extra bone built up in my elbow where I couldn’t fully extend my elbow any longer. So I was playing with a limited range of motion. I couldn’t fully extend on my pitches. And obviously that was affecting my ability to pitch. It’s just one of those things that happens over a course of time from throwing a baseball. And from playing golf, and throwing footballs from my younger days. It all caught up to me this year, but I had it all taken out and it really feels great.”

So you seem confident that you can come back even stronger? (SBF)

“Yeah, I do. Last year, I can honestly say I wasn't 100% the whole season, compared to what I was in the Minor Leagues in AAA and AA the year before. I am looking forward to this new season to see what happens and see how I feel.”

Mike Rizzo (General Manager) had stated that if the season had more time to go than just September when you were diagnosed—you could have come back quickly—is that correct? (SBF)

“Oh yeah. They (The Nationals) took it slower than what I needed because the season was going to be over. But if we had more than six weeks, I would say there would have been enough recovery time.”

You just mentioned that you are looking forward to the new season. Competition for rotation spots in 2010 is going to be tougher than last year? (SBF)

“Competition is always good.”

It’s makes everybody better. (SBF)

“That’s what people say and I believe that is true too. That’s why I can’t wait for Spring Training. There is a challenge to be met and I expect to meet that challenge. I am going to be healthy and I am going to be ready to go.”

Last question: watching The World Series from Yankee Stadium, did that bring back to your mind your first Major League victory in June? (SBF)

(Smiling Broadly) “Yeah, it did. Yeah, it did. I kept getting reminded from people back home about that fact. As you know, up until that game no one had played any game in that new stadium without giving up a home run. It’s something I can be proud of and look back on. No doubt, it’s something I will never forget.”

With that final answer Craig Stammen and John Lannan headed off to the Hospital at NIH to meet and greet sick children attending a special Halloween Party.

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3rdStoneFromTheSun said...

great post

hope he can help the Nats next year

IPLawguy said...

I like Stammen a lot. He has confidence and presence on the mound and he works fast and THROWS STRIKES!