The latest Strasburg update; Detwiler still on track to return this season

After taking yesterday and today off from throwing due to tightness in his right forearm, Stephen Strasburg is on track to play catch tomorrow at Nationals Park.

Assuming all goes well during that session, Strasburg will throw a bullpen session Monday and then be in line to start Thursday, Sept. 19 against the Marlins.

Strasburg was scratched from yesterday's scheduled start against the Phillies after feeling some tightness in his forearm during a throwing session Thursday in New York. Strasburg was examined by Nationals medical director Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, who determined that the soft tissue in Strasburg's upper forearm was the affected area.

Dr. Douoguih prescribed Strasburg some anti-inflammatories, and instructed the right-hander to get two days of rest. The Nationals will now monitor Strasburg during his throwing session tomorrow and determine whether he's OK to move forward with his program.

"We'll see how he is, how the meds are working," manager Davey Johnson said. "But I think he'll be getting better."

The Nats plan to run through their rotation as normal until the 18th, when they'll have Ross Ohlendorf get another start. That will allow Strasburg to return on the 19th, if he's ready, but would then give the other four normal starters an extra day of rest.

"I don't know how you could do it any other way," Johnson said. "But it all depends. There was no possibility, according to (pitching coach Steve McCatty) and the medical staff, that he could go the 18th. I was hoping that he could go the 18th and then everybody would be in line. But they don't feel that's doable. We'll have to see how he goes this week, and then if he doesn't (start the 19th), we can always put him in wherever."

Meanwhile, Ross Detwiler threw another bullpen session today as he tries to work back from a herniated disc in his back that has kept him on the disabled list since July 4.

Detwiler will throw one more bullpen session in a couple of days, and then should be ready to pitch to hitters in a simulated game or live batting practice session, Johnson said. The Nats will take things slowly with Detwiler, but if he continues to progress without any setbacks, Johnson still feels the left-hander will be able to return to the Nats this season and pitch in a relief role.

"There's time for him to still pitch out of the 'pen, but it all depends on how all the steps along the way go," Johnson said. "If there's any inconvenience in his back or whatever, he has little problems. But I know that he wants to come back and pitch."

Johnson is of the mind that the Nats should get Detwiler into big league games to essentially test out his health. If more problems pop up with Detwiler's back under the rigors of game action, the Nats will then know that they'll need to get the problem taken care of this offseason.

"I think the sooner he can come back and pitch, the more he can get up and throw and see that he's gonna be by this," Johnson said. "That's the main concern."

That's the Nationals' reason for getting Detwiler back pitching in games, but Detwiler has his own motivation. He'd like to get enough work in up here and prove that he's healthy so that he doesn't have to play winter ball or go to the instructional league this offseason, Johnson said.

But even if Detwiler does return and appear in some games as a reliever (it would take too long to build Detwiler's arm strength up for him to return as a starter), Johnson still would like to see Detwiler get some more innings in during organized games this offseason.

"For me, I don't think it's a big enough sample, but that's up to McCatty and (general manager Mike) Rizzo," Johnson said. "I would want to be sure that he was going to be able to hold up for next year."

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