The Washington Times - May 17, 2013, 09:42PM

SAN DIEGO — Ross Detwiler will miss his next start with a slight strain of his right oblique, but the Washington Nationals are still uncertain about whether they will lose their talented left-hander for more than that.

Detwiler, who had two MRIs done on his back over the past two days, reported to manager Davey Johnson that he was feeling a bit better on Friday. But Johnson said Detwiler is scheduled to return to the doctor on Saturday to be further examined to make sure the issue isn’t something else in his back. 

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“It’s feeling better today than yesterday,” Detwiler said Friday night. “I don’t know how I’m going to feel tomorrow. I’ve been moving around, stretching. It doesn’t feel 100 percent, but better than yesterday, so it gave me a lot of hope.”

“I imagine it was spasming a little bit,” Johnson said before the Nationals’ game against the Padres on Friday. “It’s been bothering him. It didn’t just happen. It’s been kind of just there. He might’ve maybe twisted it… He did say he felt a lot better. Doesn’t hurt him when he sneezes or walks, so I guess that’s a good sign. He hopes he’s just missing one start. That’s great. I hope he’s right.” 

If the Nationals determine that will be the likely case, they will turn to one of their two long men for Monday’s start against the San Francisco Giants.

With right-hander Craig Stammen pitching exceptionally well, and the added fact that he pitched on Detwiler’s day when the left-hander was pulled early in his previous start, he would seem to be the frontrunner.

He would also relish the opportunity.

“Starting hasn’t really entered my mind,” said Stammen, a former starter. “I might start thinking about it if Davey says something to me. As far as right now, even though I want to increase my role, my role is not to get in the rotation. I think it would be to pitch more significant innings. It could change to that. I don’t know.

“I haven’t done it in a while. But I feel like if I could get through the first innings quick, I could get through five. That would be the goal.”

Duke, a starter for his entire career before his September call-up with the Nationals in 2012, also said he would appreciate the chance — but also noted how well Stammen (2.25 ERA) is pitching right now. 

If the issue with Detwiler appears to be more long-term, however, and require a disabled list stint, the Nationals will turn to one of their pitchers from Triple-A Syracuse to fill the vacancy. Right-handers Yunesky Maya and Ross Ohlendorf would appear the top candidates for the call-up if necessary.

In order for Maya (1-4, 5.07 ERA) to make the start on Monday, he’d have to pitch on short rest as his last start came Thursday night. Ohlendorf (3-4, 4.96) would be on an extra day of rest for Monday’s start. Chris Young, who pitched on Detwiler’s day, does not appear to be a top candidate at this time.

The Nationals would likely have to decide by Saturday if they want one of their long relievers to make Monday’s start so they could allow them to throw a bullpen session or attempt to use them for an inning or two in the game to serve as their pre-start side session.