The Washington Times - June 5, 2013, 04:24PM

Stephen Strasburg emerged from the Washington Nationals’ clubhouse Wednesday afternoon and made his way toward right field. This was to be the day that the ace would test his strained right lat. The day that he would see if he could go through a bullpen session and line himself up to start Saturday.

Strasburg played a little catch, but he did not throw a pitch off the mound. And with the right-hander still dealing with tenderness in the area of what was determined to be a Grade 1 lat strain, the Nationals decided to place him on the 15-day disabled list.

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Strasburg is eligible to return to the Nationals on June 16, and the team is expected to call up a starting pitcher to take his turn in the rotation Saturday against the Minnesota Twins.

“We were going to be cautious with him, but all along, we felt that this type of injury is usually a DL type of injury,” said Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo. “But because he felt good, we wanted to see where he was at.

“You don’t want anybody to pitch with an injury. Until he’s symptom-free, we’re not going to let him pitch.”

Strasburg was pulled from his start Friday against the Atlanta Braves after two innings when he was obviously uncomfortable on the mound, grimacing and rolling his shoulders between almost every pitch.

The Nationals initially thought he might be dealing with an oblique strain, and the right-hander said it had “nagged” him in his previous starts when he was warming up in the bullpen — but once he got in the game it would loosen, and he had pitched exceptionally well. An MRI revealed the mild strain in the lower part of his lat muscle.

“Anytime a pitcher has something in the upper torso that’s causing him discomfort from being able to throw, it’s a concern,” manager Davey Johnson said. “Not so much with that injury, but what it might do to his arm. We just want to make sure that’s out of there and he’s free and loose and he can go and get on the mound and do his work, and then go start a game.”

Johnson said the team will look at a few candidates at Triple-A Syracuse to make Strasburg’s start Saturday against the Twins. Ross Ohlendorf is the likely choice. The 30-year-old right-hander has 73 major league starts to his name, including nine for the San Diego Padres in 2012.

He is 4-5 with a 4.32 ERA in 12 appearances (11 starts) for Triple-A Syracuse this season. Ohlendorf’s most recent turn in the rotation was also skipped — perhaps in preparation for a possible promotion. One other possibility is left-hander Danny Rosenbaum, who is 5-3 with a 3.48 ERA in Triple-A this season. Neither player is on the Nationals’ 40-man roster, but the team has a spot open after designating Zach Duke and Henry Rodriguez for assignment Tuesday.

The Nationals could also opt to simply slide Craig Stammen into the rotation, though they’ve previously been reluctant to remove him from his role in the bullpen in which he’s had success.

The Nationals may also add a reliever to the roster for Thursday’s and Friday’s games, to ensure they’re working with a full 25 players. In that case, left-hander Xavier Cedeno is the only healthy minor league reliever on the team’s 40-man roster.

One person who is not a candidate to make the start, but who took significant steps toward a return Wednesday, is left-hander Ross Detwiler. Under the eyes of pitching coach Steve McCatty and Rizzo, Detwiler threw an extended bullpen session and came out of it pain-free and feeling positive about his progress.

The hope is that Detwiler, who is on the disabled list with a right back muscle strain, will continue feeling well in the next two days and be ready to make a rehab start with a minor league affiliate in the next three to five days. He took a brief break during his bullpen session Wednesday to simulate an inning break.

The hope is he will not need more than one rehab start, but it all depends on how much stamina he has lost in the past three weeks.