Stephen Strasburg is feeling better than he did yesterday, manager Jim Riggleman said, but the Nationals are still being cautious enough with their prized rookie that it looks unlikely he'll make his next scheduled start on Sunday.
Strasburg, who was scratched last night after feeling tightness in his shoulder, was diagnosed with shoulder inflammation last night. He said his shoulder had been bothering him for a couple days, though he's felt similar symptoms before and isn't overly concerned about it. He said he will be held back from throwing for three or four days.
He will play catch after that, and the Nationals will have him throw a side session to see when he get back on the mound. But a source said the Nationals would prefer to avoid Strasburg pitching on Sunday.
"We've been cautious," Riggleman said. "We'll continue to to be cautious."
Scott Olsen will start for the Nationals on Thursday, followed by Craig Stammen on Friday and Ross Detwiler on Saturday. Jason Marquis, who is making a rehab start at Triple-A Syracuse tonight, is a candidate to start on Sunday, according to a source.
When Strasburg had dealt with similar symptoms at San Diego State, he said the Aztecs put him on a similar program. Already, he said his range of motion is starting to come back, and he wasn't concerned the injury was serious.
"It's more after I throw the ball, when I finish. Obviously, you have to decelerate your body to kind of slow your body down," Strasburg said. "Really, I've been learning a lot here. When you're playing this many games throughout the season, you're going to start feeling things in your body that you wouldn't otherwise have thought you'd feel. Little things are going to be kind of feeling a little off. It's a good learning process for me. It really is a blessing in disguise. I know what it feels like to get to the 100-game point, to get to this many innings. I know how to prepare for it now. Next year, God willing, this won't happen again."
He's thrown a combined 109 2/3 innings this year, about what he threw at San Diego State last year, and said he might be hitting a bit of a rookie wall.
"It wasn't on just one pitch, so that's obviously a big thing," Strasburg said. "It's just at this point in the year where I've got to really push through it. The biggest thing is getting that range of motion back, making sure that I'm flexible, everything's feeling nice and loose, and really pushing through this grind."
General manager Mike Rizzo said yesterday that Strasburg's MRI looked the same as the one the Nationals did when they signed him last August, which implied that Strasburg's MRI at the time showed some inflammation. Asked to clarify that point today, Rizzo said the MRI last August was "totally clean."