Strasburg will keep throwing during DL stint

The Nationals placed Stephen Strasburg on the 10-day disabled list this morning, a move they continue to say is one of precaution and one they hope will only sideline the right-hander for one start.

Nothing changed in Strasburg's diagnosis over the last 48 hours, according to Dusty Baker. The organization wanted to be cautious all along and made adjustments to Erick Fedde's pitching schedule so their top prospect would be available to replace Strasburg in the big league rotation Saturday.

Fedde, the organization's top pick in the 2014 draft, will be promoted from Triple-A Syracuse before Saturday's game against the Rockies. Until then, left-hander Sammy Solis has been recalled to give the club an extra bullpen arm.

strasburg-wide-pitching-red-sidebar.jpgStrasburg, meanwhile, was officially placed on the 10-day DL with "right elbow nerve impingement," according to the Nationals. The transaction was backdated to July 24, making him eligible to return as soon as Aug. 3. (The Nats are off that day, so Strasburg could make his return Aug. 4 against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, if everything goes as hoped.)

Strasburg will continue to throw while on the DL. He already played long toss in the outfield the last two days. He'll need to throw what Baker termed a "serious bullpen" session, in which he will pitch multiple simulated "innings" with breaks in between, before the club declares him ready to pitch competitively again.

"As of right now, we're skipping him a start," Baker said. "But if he doesn't come out of the bullpen session like we want him to and he wants to, then we've got to take an alternative plan."

The Nationals are left to trust Strasburg and the eight-year veteran's understanding of what he's feeling in his arm. The circumstances bear some resemblance to last season, when Strasburg cruised for four months, then landed on the DL with elbow pain in what was deemed a precautionary move. He wound up returning to make one start in early September, only to depart with a recurrence of elbow pain and never took the mound again until this spring.

"Nobody knows how Stephen feels except for Stephen," Baker said. "And if he's not feeling right, he's not feeling right."

Baker recalled the tale of J.R. Richard, the dominant ace of the Astros in the late 1970s whose career came to an abrupt halt in 1980 after he collapsed while playing catch before a game. Richard had complained of arm fatigue prior to that point. Turns out he had a blood clot in his neck that caused a stroke, ultimately ending his career.

Baker went out of his way to make sure nobody believes he's comparing Strasburg to Richard, but he did say he learned some important lessons back then that he keeps in mind today when it comes to pitcher injuries.

"Not to say this is the same situation, but if somebody says something's not right, then you've got to take every precaution," the manager said. "I don't want to alarm everybody by that story, but I just learned a long time ago that you can't say just because a guy's throwing the ball well that he's alright. But you can't just assume something's automatically wrong if he's not throwing it right. You've just got to take the cautious route."

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