By Lewis Gould

Speaking to reporters for the first time since before he was shut down last August, Nats ace Stephen Strasburg said his wrist problem went away immediately after the 15-minute carpal tunnel surgery.

The nerve issue would get aggravated every time he threw a baseball, he said Sunday, and “basically would go from numbness in my thumb to numbness in my whole hand.”

“I haven’t had any residual effects from it. … I think, if anything, all the work I’ve done strengthening it has only improved the movement of my pitches,” Strasburg said.

The 2019 World Series MVP began preparing for this season much earlier than usual, doing a light catch on Nov. 1 instead of mid-December, and throwing bullpens early in January instead of late in the month.

“Endurance-wise, stamina-wise, I feel like I’m a lot further along than I have [been] in years past,” he said. “I wanted to give myself some extra time to work through some mechanical things and be ready to go on day one.”

“He’s one of our workhorses. And not to see him out there was tough. But for me, if he was ever going to get hurt and ever fix an issue, last year would’ve been the time,” manager Dave Martinez said. “I’m glad he got it fixed, and I’m glad he feels great.”

Strasburg said the stop-start nature of last year’s pandemic-affected schedule — spring training was stopped in March, then teams resumed preparations in July — was tough on his arm.

There was a period of uncertainty about when the so-called “summer camp” would start, so Strasburg would throw into a net to try to stay ready.

It was when things picked up again that the numbness first surfaced.

“If I knew it was going to start when it did, I definitely would have just not picked up a baseball for some time,” he said. “It ended up hurting me more than helped me.”

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