Strasburg scratched due to forearm tightness, expected to start Thursday

Stephen Strasburg has been scratched from tonight’s scheduled start against the Phillies due to right forearm tightness, but the Nationals don’t think the injury is anything serious. Strasburg is expected to make his next start this Thursday, Sept. 19.

Reporters were surprised when we made our way into the Nationals clubhouse this afternoon only to see that Ross Ohlendorf was listed as tonight’s scheduled starter.

Manager Davey Johnson said that Strasburg, who had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in the fall of 2010, felt some tightness or stiffness in his forearm “out of the blue” yesterday when experimenting with a new pitch during a throwing session at Citi Field in New York.

“I don’t know if that caused his arm to get a little tight and stiffness in his forearm,” Johnson said. “It’s not down where they did Tommy John, it’s on the soft tissue on the top side of the forearm. When he was playing catch he had some discomfort and so he came in and got treatment. This was before the game, so I knew he was going to be a scratch today. ...

“I was concerned. Anytime a pitcher tells me he can’t throw the ball, doesn’t want to play catch ... so he came in and got treatment and the doctor in New York examined him and didn’t think it was anything serious. Just probably a little tired and tight. So here we are. He’s not pitching.”

After the Nationals got back to D.C., Strasburg was examined by team medical director Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, who confirmed that the injury is not with any of the ligaments or tendons in Strasburg arm and instead is a muscular issue.

Dr. Douoguih put Strasburg on a program that will have him get a couple days of rest (Strasburg stood out with the other pitchers as they warmed up on the field here at Nats Park minutes ago, but he did not throw), go on some medication and then get back into a normal throwing cycle lining him up to pitch Thursday.

Asked how certain he is that Strasburg will be able to make that start on the 19th against the Marlins, Johnson said, “I feel pretty confident.”

Johnson declined to reveal what the new pitch was that Strasburg was working on.

“I’m not telling,” he said with a smile. “There might be some scouts here. Word might get out.”

Johnson’s jovial demeanor further displayed that the Nats don’t believe Strasburg’s injury is anything too severe. There’s reason for people to worry anytime an All-Star pitcher suffers some kind of injury, and more reason to get concerned when that guy has previously had Tommy John surgery.

“Any time you’ve had an arm injury, and little discomfort, alarm bells are gonna go off,” Johnson said.

“All the doctors think it’s a non-issue. Just give him some rest. There might’ve been some inflammation in there or something from some new muscles being used on this new pitch. Who knows?”

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