Strasburg had nerve impingement, hopes to make start

The forearm discomfort that caused Stephen Strasburg to depart Sunday's start after only two innings was the result of nerve impingement, which has since been alleviated according to the Nationals, allowing the club to remain optimistic the right-hander will make his next scheduled start.

Strasburg played long-toss catch in the outfield at Nationals Park this afternoon, his typical routine four days before a start, further evidence neither he nor the team believes his ailment is serious.

"He was checked out by the doctor," manager Dusty Baker said. "The doctor said he's doing fine, and we're hoping he can progress enough to make his next start. We'll have to see."

Strasburg-White-Mound-Maddux-Sidebar.jpgStrasburg's next turn in the rotation comes Saturday against the Rockies, so he has three more days of prep time to test his arm before he'll need to take the mound in a game. He would typically throw a bullpen session either two or three days before a start, so he'll need to clear that hurdle either Wednesday or Thursday before he's cleared to face Colorado.

"Right now, they say he's progressing," Baker said. "We have a few days to see if he will make his next start or not. That's about all I can tell you."

In the event Strasburg can't make his start, the Nationals have a contingency plan in place. Baker wouldn't reveal that plan, but top pitching prospect Erick Fedde's scheduled start for Triple-A Syracuse on Monday was rained out. Fedde didn't start either game of today's doubleheader, so he would be available to make his major league debut if the organization so chooses.

Strasburg declined to talk to reporters today, but after Sunday's abbreviated start in Arizona, he described the feeling in his forearm as "just a little achiness" that also was present in his previous start in Cincinnati (when he struck out 11 and allowed only one run in seven innings).

"I think it's something I can work through," he said Sunday. "I think that's kind of why I just feel like this was a good decision today. Not let it get any worse, address it and clear it out in time for my next spot in the rotation."

Though doctors did not administer an MRI on Strasburg's arm, they did perform other tests to detect the nerve impingement. Baker said those tests were compared to similar tests from last season and "everything checked out fine."

Strasburg's eight-year career has been littered with injuries both large and small. He tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow during his rookie season in 2010 and was sidelined 12 months following Tommy John surgery. After making 30 starts in 2013 and then a career-high 34 starts in 2014, he made two short trips to the disabled list in 2015 due to neck tightness and an oblique strain. He was dominant for 4 1/2 months in 2016 before a strained flexor mass in his elbow brought an abrupt end to his season and prevented him from pitching in the postseason.

Strasburg had been healthy throughout this season's first 3 1/2 months, making all 20 starts as scheduled and earning his third career All-Star selection after going 9-3 with a 3.43 ERA in the first half.

He appeared in good spirits as he went through his on-field workout today, smiling as he walked off the field and giving high-fives to teammate Stephen Drew's two young sons.

"I talked to him today. He's feeling good," Baker said. "Whenever something happens, especially when you have a history, everybody gets a little alarmed. But he's not alarmed. He doesn't look alarmed. He actually looks very at ease and at peace."

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