Stephen Strasburg did not appear to have any significant issues during his flat-ground session of catch on Thursday afternoon, but his start on Saturday remains at least slightly tentative until the right-hander can get through his throwing on Friday also without incident.
“He’s feeling good,” manager Davey Johnson said. “He was going to go run and do flat-ground (when I talked to him). If he does that again (Friday) and has no tightness or nothing (he’ll be good to go.)
“Again, he wanted to pitch (Thursday). I just want to make that clear. He wanted to pitch. It was my judgement. I said there was no need. I don’t want to push a guy that has a little discomfort in his arm the day before he pitches. All these games are important, but his well being is more important than him starting today.”
Johnson scratched Strasburg from Thursday’s start — which was scheduled when he was scratched from his start on Sept. 13 with forearm soreness. He felt something in his forearm when warming up to play catch on Wednesday, Johnson said, and the manager decided to err on the side of caution.
“I’ve been told by the doctors not to be concerned, so I’m not gonna be concerned,” general manager Mike Rizzo said Thursday. “Until I’m told differently.”
Strasburg said the issue dissipated once he got his arm loose on Wednesday, and that was part of why he fought to keep his scheduled start for Thursday. But the problem is in getting loose, and he agreed that it’d put the team in a negative position if something cropped up on him during or just before the game.
“I don’t really know why it’s happening,” he said. “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.
“I wouldn’t say I’m too concerned because when I get nice and loose it feels 100 percent, the tough thing is getting loose.”
The Nationals had an easy solution when Strasburg informed them of the issue, with Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann already getting an extra day of rest this turn through the rotation. The Nationals simply moved both pitchers up to pitch on their regular rest, with Gonzalez going Thursday night and Zimmermann on Friday.
If that hadn’t been the case, Johnson said, he was unsure if he would’ve scratched Strasburg.
“It’s a tough question,” Johnson said. “The doctor had given him clearance so I probably would have (let him pitch), and (pitching coach Steve McCatty) thought he could probably do it. But I don’t like the fact that somebody has a little tightness in their arm and they had it before and then it came back.”
The Nationals will have a larger question to confront if, for whatever reason, Strasburg is not able to pitch again on Saturday. They would have only seven games remaining in the regular season at that point, and they’ll have to consider if Strasburg wouldn’t be best served by simply riding out the remainder of the year and resting whatever is going on inside his arm that is causing the issue. That will also depend on their position in the playoff picture.
They were not thinking about that just yet, Rizzo said.
“Why don’t we find out how he did today playing catch and I’ll have a better feel for what’s going on,” Rizzo said. “