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Thom Loverro: Nationals' shutdown of Strasburg has even more twists

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Sports,MLB,Nationals,Thom Loverro

The Stephen Strasburg shutdown saga continues to become more bizarre, which is not surprising.

This is all new -- an athlete held back from competition in a championship situation for fear of an injury that might or might not happen.

The latest is the dispute between Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo and the doctor who performed the elbow surgery on Strasburg in 2010, Lewis Yocum, who the Los Angeles Times reported said he was never consulted on the Strasburg shutdown.

He has since said that is not the case -- that he has been in touch with Rizzo and the Nationals on Strasburg's rehabilitation plan.

Since it's the same rehabilitation plan and shutdown that former Yocum patient Jordan Zimmermann went through the year before, the notion that the doctor was out of the loop is preposterous.

Yocum also said there are no "studies" to determine if shutting Strasburg down will prevent future elbow problems for the young pitcher. Rizzo and the Nationals have said they have their own data and are relying on that information for the decision to limit Strasburg's innings -- which Rizzo has consistently said was his decision, and no one else's.

Part of the problem with the Strasburg shutdown debate is there is no consensus baseball study on the issue of young pitchers and arm damage.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig should take the lead in this and create one of those blue-ribbon panels of his to study the issue.

If he does, I would hope that Strasburg's agent, Scott Boras, is on that panel.

Boras has been vilified over the years by owners because he's cost them so much money. I've jokingly suggested that the owners should just give Boras a woeful franchise like the Pirates -- not sell them to him, but just hand them over. He would do far better than those who have run the franchise, and owners wouldn't have to negotiate against him anymore.

Boras will often go into a negotiation or arbitration hearing armed with binders full of data to support the notion that the team should pay his client boatloads of money. To put it simply, he usually knows more than the other guy.

Rizzo has found a way not only to survive the Boras battles, but to thrive -- by embracing the most successful agent in baseball.

The Nationals' roster is filled with Boras clients, which has spawned conspiracy theories that suggests the agent has engineered the Strasburg shutdown, and that he, not Rizzo, is calling the shots.

Those who believe that are those who don't know Rizzo. He is a stubborn, tough guy -- the sort who would actually balk at the idea of anyone telling him what to do.

For a number of years in Baltimore, owner Peter Angelos did the opposite of Rizzo's philosophy -- refusing to do business with Boras.

How did that work out for him?

Examiner columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and espn980.com. Contact him at tloverro@washingtonexaminer.com.

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