- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A team doctor confirmed the initial diagnosis of Stephen Strasburg’s injury Monday night, telling Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams that the right-hander has a left trapezius muscle strain.

The injury affects Strasburg’s neck and upper back, according to Williams, and will prevent him from throwing. When the ailment subsides, Strasburg will begin playing catch and working toward an eventual return.

“He will not throw until that’s taken care of,” Williams said before Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Blue Jays. “But it could be within days that it feels better and he’s able to get back out there and do all the things he needs to do to get prepared to pitch again. But for right now, it’s there again, so they’re working on it.”

Williams said the Nationals are not sure what caused the injury, and they have not seen any glaring flaws in his mechanics this season.

“We’ve looked at it extensively,” Williams said. “[Pitching coach Steve McCatty] has looked at it, all the video. There’s minor adjustments that guys make during the course of a season, but nothing that glares at us that he’s changed or that’s drastically different, no.”

The muscle strain caused Strasburg to leave his start Friday in Cincinnati after throwing only 16 pitches. Afterwards, he told reporters that he was having trouble turning his head left and therefore didn’t feel that he could pitch effectively. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday.

The trapezius injury is the latest in a string of issues that have bothered Strasburg dating back to spring training. He sprained his left ankle during one spring start, and the injury lingered through the early portion of the season. Then one of his regular-season starts was pushed back because of what he described as soreness on the upper-right side of his back, possibly the result of overcompensating for the ankle injury.

Williams said it is unclear whether Strasburg’s latest injury is related to his previous back ailment.

“We don’t know,” he said. “The fact that it’s on the other side is different. So we’ve just got to calm it down and get him back as quickly as possible. So that’s kind of where they’re at right now, letting that muscle calm down. They’re working on it hard. As soon as he feels good, then he’ll get back to throwing. We don’t know when that will be, though.”

In 10 starts so far this season, Strasburg is 3-5 with a 6.55 ERA.

Fister feeling good after bullpen session

Starter Doug Fister threw only fastballs in a brief bullpen session Monday without issue and plans to throw offspeed pitches in another session later this week. He said the strained right flexor muscle that put him on the 15-day disabled list is no longer bothering him.

“I think it’s pretty much subsided completely, and that’s a good thing,” Fister said Tuesday. “So now, getting back in the swing of things, obviously there’s hiccups along the way of tightness after throwing or a little sore after a bullpen, but no, things are good.”

Fister posted a 2.87 ERA in his first six starts before allowed seven earned runs in two innings on May 14. He was placed on the DL the following day. He said Tuesday that the injury was affecting both his command and velocity, so he knew that it needed to be addressed.

“You know, it was really just more tight than complete, utter mayhem,” Fister said. “I mean, it wasn’t a bad issue. It was more of just I really need a break for some reason, there’s so much tightness going on that we really need to address it.”

Span not in the lineup for Game 1

After leaving Sunday’s game early with a right knee injury, Denard Span was not in the lineup for the first game of Tuesday’s split-doubleheader. Williams said he could be available for the second game.

“Good treatment yesterday,” Williams said. “The fact we had a day off and it allowed him to do nothing yesterday and treat it was good. That’s about the only thing good with a rainout. So we’ll see how he is for Game 2.”

Span banged his knee while making a diving catch in Chicago but played the next day. Williams said the center fielder had an MRI examination on the knee, but the team believes it is simply swollen and sore.

“There’s some swelling in there, and so we’re trying to get that out of there as quickly as possible,” Williams said.

Extra bases

Williams has not announced who will start Wednesday’s series finale but said “we’re looking at Taylor [Jordan].” The decision is dependent upon whether Jordan is needed during Tuesday’s doubleheader. … Anthony Rendon was scheduled to play nine innings at Double-A Harrisburg on Tuesday, his second full game since beginning his minor-league rehabilitation assignment Friday.

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