Strasburg cleared to start Saturday vs. Marlins

After playing catch on flat ground and doing some running this afternoon, a normal day-before-start routine, Stephen Strasburg has been cleared to start tomorrow against the Marlins.

Strasburg has been scratched from scheduled starts twice in the last week due to tightness in his right forearm. The right-hander was originally scheduled to start last Friday against the Phillies, but had that start pushed back to Thursday. When Strasburg had trouble getting loose before a throwing session Wednesday, however, Nationals manager Davey Johnson decided to push Strasburg back to Saturday in order to give him more time to get over the lingering forearm tightness.

Strasburg threw yesterday - “It wasn’t perfect, but it was OK,” Johnson said of that session - and then after coming through today’s flat-ground session OK, he was given clearance to start tomorrow.

This will mean that he’ll have 11 days off in between starts, a lengthy chunk of time.

What would the Nats have done tomorrow had Strasburg not been able to start? Dan Haren had actually volunteered to start on short rest, Johnson said, and the veteran right-hander would have been tabbed to get the ball in Game 3 of this four-game set against the Marlins. That won’t be necessary, however, barring any type of late flare-up.

Strasburg received medical clearance to start Thursday, but Johnson made it clear that it was his decision to scratch his ace and push him back to Saturday. Still, given Strasburg’s previous Tommy John surgery, Johnson would understand if Strasburg wanted to play things safe any time he deals with any type of arm discomfort.

“I think anybody that has ever had an arm injury is more cautious. And rightfully so,” Johnson said. “Anybody that’s ever had a problem, whether it’s a hip problem or back problem, you know what it feels like to start coming on and you know what it’s like to be disabled. So it’s normal.”

It seems like there have been a handful of little things that have affected Strasburg this season, whether it was the lat injury that landed him on the disabled list, the complete lack of control in Atlanta that led to an ejection or the two balks in the same inning that both brought in a run.

But while there have been a handful of minor hiccups along the way with Strasburg this season, Johnson doesn’t feel the right-hander has dealt with an abnormal amount of issues. He says people just seem to take more notice of those issues because of Strasburg’s status.

“I think it’s who he is and he’s our No. 1 pitcher,” Johnson said. “And anything that goes on with a No. 1 pitcher always gets more (attention). And high draft pick, just a lot of interest. Same way with (Bryce) Harper. Anything happens with him, everybody analyzes it every which way. It’s just part of it.”

Johnson, meanwhile, was in a very chipper mood today. He defended his title in the member-guest best-ball tournament at Congressional Country Club earlier today in the first full round of golf that he’s been able to play this season.

“So a win’s a bonus tonight,” Johnson cracked.

Johnson is an avid golfer, but he’s had to deal with lingering back pain this season and hasn’t been able to hit the links nearly as much as he would have liked. He got out there today, however, and was rewarded with a win that put a big smile on his face.

Asked how he was able to get through a full 18 holes today, Johnson responded, “I was heavily medicated.”

He then busted out in laughter yet again.

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