The Washington Post

Stephen Strasburg to play catch Sunday

(Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

After two days of rest and anti-inflammatory medication for right forearm tightness, Stephen Strasburg is slated to play catch on Sunday. This will be the first big test of whether Strasburg’s discomfort persists. And, in turn, it would reveal if the minor injury is more serious than the Nationals believed.

Strasburg was scratched from his Friday start because of forearm discomfort — referred to as irritation by pitching coach Steve McCatty — that emerged while he played catch before Thursday’s game and toyed with new grips on the baseball. Doctors evaluated Strasburg and told the Nationals that the discomfort appeared minor and would require rest and medication.

“We’ll see how he is when playing catch,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “And see how the meds are working.”

If Strasburg has no issues playing catch on Sunday, he is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Monday. If Strasburg clears that hurdle, he would make his next start on Thursday against the Miami Marlins. Johnson had originally considered scheduling Strasburg’s next start for Wednesday so the rotation could just pick back up with Strasburg’s normal spot after missing one start. But the team’s medical staff and McCatty believed the soonest Strasburg could return is Thursday, which would allow the right-hander his usual two days off after his between-start bullpen session.

What happens with the starting rotation after this turn hinges on Strasburg. If he does start on Thursday, Ross Ohlendorf, who started Friday, would start again on Wednesday. Strasburg would follow and the rest of the rotation would fall in line as normal with an extra day of rest.

“We’ll have to see how he goes this week,” Johnson said. “And if he doesn’t we could always put him in whenever. It might still be bothering him and we have the mighty Marlins coming in, so I don’t know.”

>>> Ross Detwiler threw his third bullpen session on Saturday afternoon at Nationals Park. The left-handed starter has been out since July 4 with a herniated disk in his lower back, but hopes to play before the season is done.

He is expected to throw one more bullpen session before he faces live hitters, Johnson said. After that, Detwiler could be ready to rejoin the Nationals, but as a reliever instead of a starter because he hasn’t had as much time to build up arm strength.

Johnson believes Detwiler should pitch in winter league because of all the time he has missed this season with injury. But, according to Johnson, Detwiler is against pitching in the Nationals’ instructional league or in winter ball. Even if Detwiler returns this season, Johnson believes the left-hander should build up the innings during the offseason. The Nationals and Detwiler would know if he has overcome his injury, and it would help provide clarity to the Nationals’ starting depth for next season.

“There should be some other [prospects] coming up, closer to pitching up here, probably middle of next year,” Johnson said. “But Det’s a key guy.”

James Wagner joined the Post in August 2010, wrote about high school sports across the region for two years and has covered the Nationals since the middle of the 2012 season.



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James Wagner · September 14, 2013