Strasburg seeing specialist, Ross to start Monday (plus other notes)

Stephen Strasburg continues to recover his neck strain, and the right-hander will see another specialist Monday in hopes of figuring out how to combat the nagging problem.

“He’s scheduled to see someone tomorrow,” manager Davey Martinez said during his pregame Zoom session with reporters.

The Nationals are trying to determine why Strasburg can play long toss without any problems, but feels the neck issue when he throws from a mound.

“It’s more of a comfort thing, like I said,” Martinez said. “He felt uncomfortable after his bullpen sessions. We want him to go see a specialist and see what’s going on, why this is happening. It doesn’t happen to him when he plays long toss, but after he has a bullpen, he feels discomfort up in his neck area. The best thing to do now is to have him see somebody else, see if we can pinpoint what it is - if it’s anything - or if it’s just a muscle thing.”

Strasburg-Delivers-Gray-Baltimore-Sidebar.jpgCould this be a problem Strasburg just has to learn how to pitch through?

“We’re hoping that’s not a path we have to go down, but if he goes to see someone and they don’t deem anything wrong, that it’s just a muscle thing, then we’ll have to come up with another game plan for him,” Martinez said.

* Right-hander Joe Ross will be activated off the injured list to start Monday’s opener of a four-game series in Philadelphia, Martinez said.

“I talked to him last night (and) he feels good,” Martinez said of Ross. “He checked all the boxes of what we need to see, so he’s going to start tomorrow.”

Ross’ Friday bullpen session was enough to prove to Martinez that he wouldn’t need a minor league rehab start. Though Ross has been on the IL since July 8 (retroactive to July 7) with right elbow inflammation, Martinez is wary of adding a rehab stint to his recovery regimen because he wants to keep an eye on Ross’ workload after the pitcher opted out of last season.

“His arm felt good, the doctors OK’d him. He didn’t miss a whole lot of time. We had guys stand in his last bullpen session, right-handed and left-handed hitters, and he was pounding the strike zone. ... For me, we want to get him back out there as soon as we can.

“You know, we often talk about Joe because he missed all of last year, and about how much we can get out of him this year. I talked to (pitching coach Jim) Hickey, I talked to him about just if he went down on a rehab assignment, which (is) kinda just wasting bullets. There’s only so many innings and we gotta be careful how many innings he does pitch. He feels like he’s ready to go.”

* Right-hander Max Scherzer played catch at Camden Yards this morning, a day after he was scratched from a scheduled start because of minor right triceps discomfort.

“We’ll see how he feels after, when he comes in,” Martinez said. “I’ll have a conversation with him and then we’ll go from there. We think we’re going to treat this - if he’s good - we’ll treat this and he’ll get ready for his next start. He’ll have to throw a bullpen and then we’ll go from there as well.

* Injured catchers Alex Avila (bilateral calf strains) and Yan Gomes (oblique strain) continue to progress in their recoveries. Martinez said Avila, on the IL since July 3 (retroactive to July 2), needs to show the team’s medical staff he can run without issue.

“He’s done everything else but run,” Martinez said. “We’ve got to get him on the field and start running the bases a little bit. Hopefully, that will happen soon.”

Gomes, who has been on the IL since July 10, is “close” to returning, the manager said.

“Yan is close. He’s in the cage, he’s been hitting, doing a lot of soft toss,” Martinez said. “He took some BP in the cage, so the next step will be ... (to) get him hitting on the field and then we’ll go from there.”

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