The Nationals got some good news on Tuesday night; Stephen Strasburg, who was scratched from his Tuesday start after feeling stiffness in his arm during his warmup, does not have any structural damage to his arm. He underwent a pair of tests with Nationals team doctor Wiemi Douoguih, an X-ray and an MRI, and while he has some shoulder inflammation, he is day-to-day, and general manager Mike Rizzo did not rule out Strasburg making his next start.
"As we originally announced, he had shoulder stiffness and discomfort," Rizzo said. "He was examined by our doctor, Dr. Douoguih, and he gave him the labral test and the (shoulder) capsule test, which was fine. The X-ray was negative, which is a good thing. We sent him for an MRI, and the MRI shows no changes from right after we signed him. No cuff damage, no labral damage, so that's good news."
Rizzo said Strasburg is on anti-inflammatory medication, and had dealt with some similar problems at San Diego State.
It's still uncertain whether Strasburg will pitch on Sunday against the Phillies, but even if the Nationals shut down their prized rookie for a start or two, Rizzo wouldn't plan to shut him down for the season.
"We're going to play that by ear, see how he feels on a daily basis," Rizzo said. "If he were shut down right now, depending on what length of time you're talking about, we would certainly crank him back up and pitch him again when he feels 100 percent."
Before Tuesday's game, Strasburg played catch and threw five to seven pitches in his bullpen session. Pitching coach Steve McCatty asked him how he was feeling, and Strasburg said he felt stiff. "He told the truth," McCatty said.
Catcher Ivan Rodriguez said Strasburg didn't look like his normal self during his bullpen warmup, either; Strasburg's delivery is so smooth that it was easy to tell something was off. And though the rookie insisted he could get through it, McCatty had no interest in taking chances.
"He said, 'It's stiff, but I can get loose.' I just said, 'No.'" McCatty said. "That was it, and that's basically all it was - doing the right thing for him and the organization. That was it."
Shortstop Ian Desmond said he started hearing whispers that Strasburg wouldn't make his start around 6:45 p.m. Like most players, Desmond was immediately concerned, but the Nationals quickly got word that Strasburg was likely going to be fine.
They'll know more in the coming days about whether they can truly be at ease about the health of their 22-year-old ace.
"Nobody knows what the extent of it is or anything like that," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "You never like to see that stuff, especially to a kid like him. I'm sure he'll be fine. I'm sure they were a little precautionary. We'll figure it out."