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Stephen Strasburg backs off some after discomfort in neck returns following sim game...

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Stephen Strasburg’s long road back to the rotation still a bumpy one...

Baltimore Orioles v Washington Nationals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Before the All-Star break it sounded like Stephen Strasburg was building towards a rehab assignment as he works his way back from a neck strain which landed him on the Injured List back in early June, three starts after he’d returned from an IL stint for inflammation in his right shoulder.

“He threw a sim game yesterday,” Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez said in his daily Zoom call with reporters on Friday, July 9th.

“It went well, so we’ll see what’s next for him. He’s going to go through his routine today and tomorrow and then we’ll come up with another plan for him.”

Two days later, Martinez said that the 32-year-old right-hander, who last pitched in the big leagues on June 1st, would obviously need to throw somewhere before returning to throw big league innings.

Washington Nationals Workout Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

“Stras is going to have to go pitch,” Martinez said.

“He’s just building arm strength right now still. I know he’s been on the mound, he’s been throwing bullpens, but we got to be a little more cautious with Stras. Like I said, we want him — when he comes back, we want him to come back strong and finish out the season with us and not have any more recurring injuries.”

Unfortunately, any eventual assignment is going to have to wait, because as Martinez said in his Zoom call with reporters before last night’s game, Strasburg felt some discomfort a few days after the sim game he threw before the break, so they’ve once again slowed things in his build-up.

“Since he threw — he threw that sim game in San Diego,” the manager explained, “... he felt a little bit of discomfort in his neck area, so we backed him off a little bit.

“He came out yesterday, he threw at 120 feet, he said he felt a lot better, so once again, we’re going to — he’ll probably go throw long-toss again, and then we’ll see where he’s at, and try to get him back in a bullpen session again, and then go from there.”

Martinez was asked where his concern level is right now, following the latest setback for the 2019 World Series MVP, who has made a total of seven starts and thrown 26 23 innings on a major league mound since he signed a 7-year/$245M deal following ‘19’s World Series run.

Washington Nationals v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

“It wasn’t — after talking to him, the conversation was it just didn’t feel right, he felt achy,” Martinez continued. “So, I told him — my conversation with him is always, ‘Hey, we can back down a little bit and then we’ll see where you at. We’ll start — throw when you can,’ so he took a few days off, he threw yesterday, like I said, he’s probably going to play catch again today, and we’ll see how he feels today.”

Strasburg’s issues reportedly cropped up after the sim game in San Diego.

“It was more in the recovery process,” Martinez said. As for whether it’s good/bad, better or worse that it wasn’t an issue on the mound, but only afterwards?

“Like I said before, for me, with Stephen, it’s just go get him 100% healthy,” Martinez told the reporter who asked.

“And when he does say he felt something, then we need to listen, back off, and he got treatment, and like I said, he’s back — gave him a few days off, and he’s throwing long again, yesterday he threw long, said he felt a lot better, so do it again, and then we’ll see where he’s at from there. But when Stephen comes back I want him to come back and finish this season on the mound and not have this reoccurrence again.”