Washington Nationals' manager Davey Johnson started this afternoon's post game press conference by revealing some news about 23-year-old right-hander Stephen Strasburg that caught most of the reporters in the room by surprise. "I didn't know about Stras," the 69-year-old skipper said, "Stras in the first inning, threw a lot of pitches and didn't say anything... I always worry about a pitcher, any pitcher that throws a lot pitches in the first inning, but after he came out in the fifth," the manager said, Strasburg wanted to go into the clubhouse to do an exercise to loosen up tightness that he was experiencing in his bicep. "But it seemed to get tighter on him," Johnson said, "And as soon as I heard that I said that was it." Johnson lifted Strasburg after the fifth, with the pitcher already up to 90 pitches on the day and the Nationals up 6-3 over the Orioles.
"His pitch count was fine and he was throwing great. The fact is he was pitching better in [innings] 3-5 than he was in the first two. His command was better and everything was crisper. But I don't care who it was, when I find out they've got a little tightness in there and they're worried about it they're out. But, I talked to him later on in the game and he said to me it relaxed a little bit and he felt a lot better. I'm not as concerned when I hear it's in the bicep. That's generally where you can have tightness that comes from throwing a lot of pitches in an inning, that's borderline being a little tired."
Davey Johnson said that team doctor Wiemi Douoguih had looked at Strasburg, but the 23-year-old right-hander told reporters after the game that it was just general fatigue from having worked too hard between starts to make up for a bad outing in his previous trip to the mound. Davey Johnson told reporters that Strasburg had looked like the normal Strasburg on the mound, but stressed that he would have preferred if his pitcher had told him about the discomfort. "Anything wrong with any pitcher that complains about anything," the manager said, "And Stras is not a complainer. If he had told me it was tightness in the first inning, after the first inning I'd have probably hooked him then."
"I would have liked to have known that he had a little discomfort," Johnson said, "They've all pitched through different tightness, soreness and whatever in their arms, but I'd hate [for] him to hide anything like that."
"The one thing about the bicep being tight," the manager continued, "That's probably the one that scares me in the least." With Strasburg's injury history of course, (he had Tommy John surgery late in the 2010 season) any sort of arm issues are going to be big news, but both Davey Johnson and his pitcher downplayed the seriousness of the bicep tightness Strasburg experienced. Asked if he thought Strasburg would miss a start, the Nats' skipper said he didn't the pitcher would miss any time.
"No, I don't. I was a little upset when I saw him on the bench, [later in the game], wondering why he's not in the [clubhouse] getting treatment or a rub or having every orthopedic doctor in the country come over and look at him. But he was fine, he basically stayed on the bench and that's why I quizzed him."
"I said, 'How are you feeling now?' And he said, 'I feel a lot better right now.' So, that's from fatigue, or overwork."
• Here are the post game Tweets from the Nats beat reporters who spoke to Strasburg in the clubhouse after Davey Johnson's comments:
Strasburg went so far as to deny Davey Johnson's contention that SS had sore biceps. Just said ball wasn't "jumping" out of hand as normal— Brian McNally (@bmcnally14) May 20, 2012
Strasburg squashed any questions surrounding his arm. Normal fatigue, he said. Felt he did too much between starts, pissed about last outing— Amanda Comak (@acomak) May 20, 2012
Strasburg: "Nothing different than any other outing. Going to be like this for probably the rest of year. Part of coming back from TJ."— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) May 20, 2012
• More info later if there's more to report, but it seems like the Nats and their pitcher aren't too concerned...