Athletes over the ages have blamed everything under the sun for poor performance; but for the case of Stephen Strasburg's rough start against the San Diego Padres Tuesday afternoon, well, let's just say that the reason for his bad day leaves any guy feeling a little more than uncomfortable.
Strasburg, a pitching phenom for the Washington Nationals, gave up four runs in four innings in an uncharacteristic bad start. After the game, when asked yo give insight into what was troubling Strasburg, Nationals Manager Davey Johnson volunteered an unusual postgame revelation.
According to Johnson, Strasburg, in order to loosen up his shoulder, had applied the analgesic ointment 'Hot Stuff.' Somehow the ointment made it's way south to a somewhat sensitive, and private, area.
“I can’t really tell you what the problem was, but some Hot Stuff got misplaced,” Johnson said. “It was on his shoulder and evidently – I don’t know how it got to where it got, but it was uncomfortable, to say the least.”
When asked about his managers comments, Strasburg, who seemed visibly angry that this was even being discussed, refused to elaborate on it, saying that he was “going to keep that in the clubhouse”.
The incident has all the earmarks of a clubhouse prank, except for one detail; players value winning above all else. With that truth prevalent, it is unlikely that this was nothing more than an unfortunate accident. I would like to think no one would prank Strasburg on a day that he is scheduled to start.
The bad outing matched the second shortest start of Strasburg's career. It also marked only the second time in 25 starts that the phenom allowed more than three runs. But, misplaced ointment aside, Strasburg isn't making excuses for his bad day.
“Yeah, it was just tough conditions all around,” Strasburg said. “But I’m not one to make excuses. It’s just one of those games where you go out there and do your best to overcome the obstacles.”
The web page for the ointment in question, Mueller Hot Stuff, states that their product is “great for warming muscles before play and afterwards to help relieve soreness” but is “not recommended for use with additional heat source or on sensitive skin.”
Who knows, with all this attention Strasburg is generating for the 'stuff,' maybe he can swing an endorsement deal out this whole fiasco.
Photo Credit: Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI
James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports and you can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.