Stephen Strasburg, pinch hitter?

(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

The Nationals have shut down Stephen Strasburg’s right arm for the season, but Manager Davey Johnson has not ruled out using him again this season in a different way.  

“I check on him,” Johnson said. “I told him yesterday, to give him something to think about, I said, ‘Keep taking batting practice. I might need your bat. If I can’t use your arm, I’ll use your bat.’ ”

In the past, Johnson said he would not use Strasburg as a pinch-hitter, even if Strasburg’s ability – his slash line currently sits at .277/.333/.426 in 53 plate appearances – made it tempting. But Johnson insisted he was not joking about the possibility of Strasburg batting.

“I’m serious, yeah,” he said.

Strasburg made his final start of the season five days ago, but already he has become antsy with no more starts to look forward to. During the Nationals’ series in New York, Strasburg has shagged batting practice in center field, mostly standing by himself.

“He’s been pestering [pitching coach Steve McCatty] about what he can do,” Johnson said. “Can I keep throwing off the mound? No. Can I play catch in the outfield? Yes. It’s pretty bad now, but it’s going to get worse. Because he’s going to be champing.”

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