Stephen Strasburg was scratched from a start for the second time in five days when he reported some tightness in his forearm again and Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson decided not to pitch the right-hander on Thursday against the Miami Marlins.
Strasburg, who was scratched on Friday with forearm soreness, felt something in that area while warming up to play catch on Wednesday and the manager decided to err on the side of caution and push him back again.
Gio Gonzalez will start for the Nationals on Thursday and Jordan Zimmermann on Friday, both on regular rest, and Strasburg is tentatively slotted in for Saturday.
“He felt a little something there, but he wanted to pitch tomorrow,” Johnson said after the Nationals’ 5-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night.
“I said ‘Well, no way. I’ve got guys on full rest. I’ll pitch them and you can be in the lineup for Saturday.’ It’s my decision, but he just felt it was hard to get loose.”
Strasburg, who first dealt with the forearm issue when the Nationals were in New York last week, threw a bullpen on Monday and came through it feeling strong, and relieved that the issue seemed to be behind him.
But Strasburg said he felt something warming up to play catch on Wednesday. He retreated to the clubhouse to do some “squeezing exercises, and it went away.” He then went out and threw, as usual, without incident.
“He came in, they tested him, everything was fine,” Johnson said. “He wanted to go. But in my book, I don’t want to have anything bothering you the day before you pitch… It’s just not worth the risks. He wanted to go tomorrow, I said ‘No.’”
“I wish we could figure out what it is,” Strasburg said. “I don’t know what’s going on, but I think it works better for the club, instead of going out there and potentially having it happen to me during a game. Give it a couple extra days, let Gio and Jordan go ahead, get it done, and get out there on Saturday.”
The issue may be one Strasburg can pitch with, he said, but the team talked him out of it.
Gonzalez was informed shortly after batting practice that he’d be starting on Thursday instead of Friday.
“I think it is (something I can pitch with),” Strasburg said. “But I don’t really know why it’s happening. When it happens, it happens. It’s like a strong cramp. So I just think I would put us in a bind if I went out there and felt it. We’d definitely be down some pitchers.”
The hope is that he will play catch on Thursday and Friday without incident and be ready to go on Saturday.
“I wouldn’t say I’m too concerned because when I get nice and loose it feels 100 percent,” Strasburg said. “The tough thing is getting loose.
“I did all the tests, Dr. Wiemi (Douoguih) looked it over. Everything is structurally sound. I think it’s just part of it being September, and that’s pretty much it.”