SAN DIEGO — Washington Nationals left-hander Ross Detwiler was sent for an MRI Thursday afternoon in San Diego, one day after back spasms cut short his start against the Los Angeles Dodgers, to determine the extent of the issue.
Detwiler’s next start, scheduled for Monday in San Francisco, may be in jeopardy.
UPDATE: Detwiler’s MRI was inconclusive, according to general manager Mike Rizzo, and the left-hander will go for a “broader picture” MRI on Friday. Manager Davey Johnson said “there was a little irregularity in there,” and a specialist will attend to him on Friday.
“He was a little stiff and sore this morning,” Johnson. “But we hope he’s going to be all right.”
Johnson said he was “probably not that confident” that Detwiler would be able to make his next start, but the team will know more once they have the results of the left-hander’s MRI and he has another day or two to gauge how he’s feeling.
The hope is that even if Detwiler has to miss a start, he will not require a disabled list stint.
“If we think he’s just going to miss one start, then we wouldn’t DL him, we’d do it internally,” Johnson said. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”
In the event that Detwiler cannot start, the Nationals would likely turn to one of their two long relievers, Craig Stammen or Zach Duke, to make the spot start. Stammen, who has been one of the team’s best relievers this season, would appear to be the lead candidate.
If they don’t feel either of them should do it, they could turn to a pitcher at Triple-A Syracuse, but there is only one regular starter with an ERA below 4.00 currently on that roster.
Chris Young, who the Nationals were happy to bring back on a minor league deal as insurance for their rotation, is 1-2 with a 7.96 ERA in five starts.
Detwiler appeared uncomfortable covering first base in the third inning on Wednesday night and he was visited by the Nationals’ trainers, pitching coach Steve McCatty and Davey Johnson shortly thereafter. They allowed the left-hander to remain in the game, but he was pulled as soon as the inning was over. The issue first arose when he was running to first base on a bunt earlier in the game, he said.
Detwiler said Wednesday night that the pain was on the right side of his back, and it was preventing him from getting the proper extension on his pitches. When asked then if he thought he’d be able to make his next start, he admitted he had no idea.
“It’s still the day of my last start,” he said. “So I’ve got to wait to see how I feel tomorrow.”
“It could be a little teeny pinched nerve, a little vertebrate being out of whack,” Johnson speculated. “They do a lot of twisting. A lot of times a good massage and a lot of heat on it, good things will happen.”
For now, the Nationals will keep their fingers crossed.