ATLANTA - Stephen Strasburg will leave the Nationals in Atlanta and fly back to D.C. after he was diagnosed with a strained right oblique, an injury that knocked him from tonight's 3-2 Nats win after just two innings.
It turns out that Strasburg has been feeling discomfort in the oblique for a few starts now, but while it had improved as he got deeper into his past outings, his right side only tightened up more as he went deeper into tonight's game. He finished off the second inning and then was removed from the game.
"He wanted to continue," said manager Davey Johnson, who, along with pitching coach Steve McCatty and trainer Lee Kuntz told Strasburg after the second inning they weren't going to let him keep going. "He was wincing and in a whole lot of pain. I was not so much worried about his back as I was worried about his arm. Anytime you have something like that, you worry about putting more stress on your arm.
"He was complaining of discomfort warming up and it was more severe than it was the last time out. He's a gamer. He wanted to continue. But something like that, and I saw him wincing every throw he made, and even (catcher Kurt) Suzuki made the sign, you know, like, it's not real good. But I'm not gonna take a chance with his arm. That's the main concern. The side will heal, but when you try to do too much with your hose out there, it's dangerous. So he was not going to continue."
Johnson said that Strasburg will head back to D.C. to get examined by Nationals medical director Dr. Wiemi Douoguih. The Nats don't plan to make a roster move now because Monday's off-day gives them some flexibility with how they can handle their rotation alignment. If the Nats skip Strasburg's turn with the off-day, he would be in line to throw again on June 8.
"Just a little tight back there," Strasburg said. "It is what it is. I battled with it for a little bit the last few starts. Davey and Lee, they thought it was a good decision to get out of the game and not let it progress anymore.
"It's something where, the last few starts I'd feel it warming up. I'd go out there and I wouldn't feel anything. Tonight, it was more kind of like the reverse. I felt really good in the bullpen. I threw a couple pitches in there, and it started to tighten up. I felt it more and more. Nothing I could do about it. I'm kind of frustrated. You want to give at least seven, eight innings a start. I'm just thankful (Craig) Stammen was able to come in and pick me up and win the first one."
Strasburg said he feels the discomfort more after he throws a pitch than during his windup or follow-through. He was noticeably rolling his shoulders after pitches in the second inning, and it was evident he was in some discomfort.
This is a similar injury to the one that Ross Detwiler is currently dealing with, but because Detwiler's a left-hander, his oblique issue isn't on his throwing-arm side. Detwiler has missed his last two starts and is currently on the disabled list.
While the Nationals will certainly take things slowly with Strasburg, he hopes to get the ball his next time out.
"Honestly, I could have gone out there and kept pitching," Strasburg said. "My command wasn't there, but I think I definitely could have pitched through it. But, you know, Davey didn't want to take the chance. You just got to be proactive about it, get the treatment. Hopefully, I should be able to make the next start.
"You got to take care of the body. The biggest thing is figuring out what's going on. Get to the root of the problem, fix it, get back out there. ... You don't want it to get worse to where I'll be on the shelf for an extended period of time."