Strasburg scratched with right forearm tightness

By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter

WASHINGTON — Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg was a surprise scratch from his scheduled start Friday night because of tightness in his right forearm.

Manager Davey Johnson said that Strasburg originally felt the soreness before Thursday’s game against the Mets, when the right-hander was experimenting with a new pitch. Strasburg will rest for two days and take some medication, but he is expected to make his next start on Sept. 19 against the Marlins.

Johnson said the tightness is in the soft tissue of Strasburg’s arm, not the surgically-repaired ligament in his elbow.

“All of the doctors think it’s a non-issue,” Johnson said. “We’ll give him some rest. There might have been some inflammation in there or something from some new muscles being used on this new pitch. Who knows?”

Strasburg was examined by doctors in New York on Thursday and team doctor Wiemi Douoguih on Friday. Johnson said Strasburg had some tests, but the skipper did not think that the right-hander had an MRI.

Strasburg was not available for comment before Friday’s game. Johnson would not reveal the new pitch that the right-hander was working on. The Nationals’ manager did, however, admit that the news was initially worrisome.

“Yeah, I was concerned,” Johnson said. “Any time a pitcher tells you he can’t throw tomorrow, doesn’t want to play catch [is concerning]. He came in here and got treatment, the doctor in New York examined him and didn’t think it was anything serious. Probably just tight. So here we are. He’s not pitching. He’ll pitch the 19th.”

Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf, who has made sporadic starts for the Nationals this season, was slotted to start Friday in Strasburg’s place. Johnson said that Ohlendorf had been preparing as if he would start Thursday, so he effectively received an extra day of rest.

Strasburg, meanwhile, has made 28 starts this season, the same amount he made in 2012 before the Nationals elected to shut him down for precautionary reasons. In 2012, Strasburg went 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA over 159 1/3 innings. Though he is just 7-9 this season, he sports a 2.96 ERA over 170 innings of work.

While Strasburg’s shut down last year was carefully planned months in advance, his forearm tightness and missed start Friday were completely unexpected.

“Right out of the blue,” Johnson said. “But Stephen’s a perfectionist. He likes everything just perfect. So any time you’ve had an arm injury, any little discomfort and the alarm bells are going to go off.”

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