Stephen Strasburg got through 2 1⁄3 scoreless innings on 45 pitches in his second outing in Grapefruit League action this spring before a left calf issue caused him to stumble and got the attention of his manager and trainer.
They decided to end his outing at that point out of an abundance of caution, following a brief discussion on the mound.
“It was really not much of a discussion, just wanted to pinpoint exactly what he was feeling,” manager Davey Martinez explained. “Other than that he was coming out of the game.”
“Stephen is a tough guy. We know that in the past he has pitched with cramps, but this is something right now that he doesn’t need to be out there if he felt that.”
Strasburg tested the calf in a controlled setting over last week, throwing 74 pitches in five “innings” in a sim game, and he felt good, so the club scheduled his third official start of the spring.
Tonight in West Palm Beach, the right-hander will take on the Houston Astros.
Strasburg’s 2020 campaign ended after just two starts and five innings on the mound when an issue with carpal tunnel neuritis required surgery, so the build-up for the upcoming 2021 campaign is especially important.
While the Nationals pulled him from his 3/14 outing when the calf issue came up, Strasburg said he could have worked through it if it was a regular season game.
“100%. It’s — I wouldn’t say it was like more — I’ve had my calves cramping up on me in the past,” he explained, “and I’ve pitched through that, and I think this was definitely something a little different, but not something that I couldn’t have pitched through if it was a bigger game, I guess.”
There was no reason to, of course. With nine days remaining before Opening Day, the Nats need to get Strasburg through another outing and make sure there are no issues before he gets back on the mound in games that count.
How he’ll be lined up is unclear as Martinez and Co. on the Nationals’ bench are apparently still discussing how to line up their starters with two lefties (Patrick Corbin and Jon Lester) now in the mix in D.C.
They have a week-plus to work that out. Tonight, it’s Strasburg vs the Astros.