The Nationals got a little bit of a scare today, when left-hander Ross Detwiler felt some more discomfort in his lower back during a bullpen session. As a result of this setback, Detwiler is now "questionable" to make his start on Monday, according to manager Davey Johnson.
Detwiler had originally felt some stiffness in his back after his start in New York back on June 28. The Nats monitored Detwiler closely in the days after that start, but when he felt good in a bullpen session, they cleared him to start Wednesday against the Brewers.
The left-hander allowed four runs (two earned) on eight hits in six innings in that start, but he apparently aggravated the back either during that start or today.
"I think they put him on some medication," Johnson said. "He's a tough cookie. He's not averse to pitching with a little pain. But (pitching coach Steve McCatty) wasn't real pleased with his 'pen, so he knew that he was not 100 percent."
The good news in this for the Nationals is that right-hander Dan Haren is eligible to come off the disabled list on Monday, so he could slide into Detwiler's spot in the rotation if Detwiler does indeed need to miss the start. The Nats can continue running Taylor Jordan out there until both Haren and Detwiler are healthy.
"So nothing needs to be done at this time," Johnson said. "It's just a concern of McCatty, (Detwiler) was having discomfort doing his side work. And he took two days off (in between his start and bullpen session). He usually takes just one. Whereas the side work he had prior to his previous start was really good, obviously something flared up in his last start. He didn't look the same in his last start, either.
"But hopefully if he has to miss a couple starts, he can get extra time off with the (All-Star) break. We just need to get him back 100 percent."
The fact that Detwiler and Haren have both been battling medical issues could lead to the Nats intensifying their search for a starting pitcher via a trade. The Nats have been poking around looking for pitching recently, and they could be more interested in acquiring an outside arm now.
Nationals medical director Dr. Wiemi Douoguih has been consulting with head trainer Lee Kuntz on Detwiler's health, and Dr. Douoguih will be in tomorrow to examine the lefty. The Nats should know more after that session.
As Johnson noted, they could end up bumping Detwiler back until after the break, allowing him more time to let the back heal.
"It's that same area that keeps coming back," Johnson said. "We need to get by it. If you ever miss any time, you get four days for the break, and for a starting pitcher, you can be at the end of the line (in the rotation). That's another five days. And if you went back to the 3rd, that would give him almost three weeks. But we need to get him healthy, that's the main concern.
"Usually back injuries, I mean, they're debilitating. You need to get by them and get cured. When they're there, there's no such thing as just a small backache. If you've got a spasm in your back, you've got a problem. Especially pitchers, that's where they get their extension."