Stephen Strasburg headed to disabled list
Updated at 5:25 p.m.
Still experiencing tightness in his strained right lat muscle, Stephen Strasburg will be placed on the 15-day disabled list by the Nationals.
Strasburg hasn't experienced any setbacks since he was pulled after two innings Friday night in Atlanta, but the condition hasn't improved enough for club officials to let him take the mound again. The right-hander was scheduled to throw off a bullpen mound this afternoon, but he never attempted the session.
"We were going to be cautious with him, but all along, we felt that this type of injury is usually a DL-type of injury," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "But because he felt good, we wanted to see where he was at."
The move is retroactive to June 1, making Strasburg eligible to return from the DL as soon as June 16.<!-- more -->
Strasburg appeared to be pitching well Friday night against the Braves but was pulled after two innings and 37 pitches after noting tightness in his lower right side to pitching coach Steve McCatty and head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz. He later admitted having felt the sensation in a handful of previous starts, though it worsened during this latest appearance.
A subsequent MRI revealed a Grade 1 strain at the base of the right lat muscle, near the oblique. The Nationals didn't immediately place the right-hander on the DL, giving him an opportunity to play catch after a few days of rest.
Strasburg did play catch on flat ground several times but never made it back onto the mound as hoped, prompting the Nationals to determine he wouldn't be ready in time for Saturday's start against the Twins.
"Any time a pitcher ... has something in the upper torso that's causing him discomfort from being able to throw, it's a concern," manager Davey Johnson said. "Not so much with that injury, but what it might do to his arm. So we just want to make sure that's out of there and he's free and loose and he can go and get on the mound and do his work and then go start a game."
With Strasburg shelved for at least 10 more days, the Nationals will need to find a replacement starter for Saturday's game and perhaps more after that.
Johnson said the club will likely promote a pitcher from their farm system to take Strasburg's spot, and veteran right-hander Ross Ohlendorf is the most likely candidate. Ohlendorf, 30, is 4-5 with a 4.32 ERA in 12 games (11 starts) for Class AAA Syracuse but has dominated his last two starts (striking out 22 and allowing only eight hits in 12 1/3 innings).
Ohlendorf last pitched on Thursday. He was scheduled to start for the Chiefs last night but was scratched, likely in anticipation of this potential promotion.
Ross Detwiler, also on the DL with a strained right oblique, has made progress in his recovery but will not take Strasburg's spot this weekend, Johnson said. Detwiler threw two simulated innings in the bullpen this afternoon and emerged feeling strong. If he experiences no residual effects in the next few days, he'll make a 40-to-50-pitch rehab start in the minor leagues on Monday and should be ready to come off the DL after that.
"He threw well out there, and it was an extended bullpen," Rizzo said. "He said he feels good. We'll see how he feels tomorrow."