Stephen Strasburg left his last start with cramping in his left (non-throwing) hand, and went just two innings tonight in the series opener with the San Francisco Giants in Nationals Park before he was replaced for the start of the third.
Strasburg, 29, never looked comfortable on the mound, rolling his right shoulder/neck and grimacing after a number of pitches, getting hit hard, giving up five hits, one a homer, and three runs total before he was done.
He headed straight down the tunnel to the Nationals’ clubhouse and Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez had pitching coach Derek Lilliquist call to the pen for a reliever in the top of the third.
After tonight’s game, a 9-5 loss to the Giants, Martinez told reporters that Strasburg was dealing with inflammation in his right shoulder.
“Shoulder tightened up on him,” the manager explained.
“He’s got a little bit of inflammation, but he’s getting an MRI tomorrow, so we’ll know a lot more tomorrow.”
Asked if it had been an issue before tonight, Martinez said, “He’s been sore, but not terribly sore,” adding, “our concern was — he’s throwing 97-98 mph, I mean he said he felt fine, but when he started complaining I didn’t want to take a chance.”
As for what he saw that led to him to be concerned, Martinez explained it was fairly obvious there was an issue.
“When he came out, I saw him with his head down so I asked [trainer Paul Lessard] to check on him and he did and he said his shoulder is a little tight.”
“So I went and talked to him. He wanted to go back out and pitch, and I said no.”
“I think every pitcher kind of, you ask them and they’re not going to feel 100% every time,” Strasburg said when he spoke to reporters after the game.
“It’s just been something that’s been a gradual process and it’s been affecting me more and more over the last three or four starts, and it’s a tough one to gauge because you want to go out there and do your part, and today it just acted up on me a little bit more than the other ones, and just Davey decided to pull the plug.”
Martinez was asked about his level of concern.
“I just want to get the results of the MRI tomorrow before we make any conclusions,” he said.
“Hopefully it’s nothing at all, just a little tightness, a little inflammation, we can take care of it, and then we’ll go from there.”
“I’m trying not to forecast anything,” Strasburg said when asked the same.
“I think I’m just going to get an MRI tomorrow and take it from there.”
“In the grand scheme of things I’ll be okay, but it’s frustrating,” he added. “We’ll see. Hopefully get some answers in the next couple days.”