The Washington Post

Stephen Strasburg scratched, Gio Gonzalez to start Thursday

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Two days after throwing a clean bullpen session, Stephen Strasburg was scratched from his Thursday start as a precaution after he had some trouble getting loose while playing catch on Wednesday, Nationals Manager Davey Johnson said. Strasburg referred to discomfort as a “strong cramp.”

Strasburg was also scratched from his last start last Friday because of right forearm tightness he felt the day before when he tried playing catch and toyed with new grips on a pitch. Strasburg will be pushed back to Saturday and Gio Gonzalez will start on Thursday on regular rest.

“In my book, I don’t want to have anything bothering you the day before you pitch,” Johnson said.

Strasburg had no issues this week after resting. He didn’t throw for two days and took anti-inflammatories. He felt nothing wrong in his forearm when he played catch on Sunday and then threw a bullpen session on Monday. But on Wednesday afternoon, Strasburg “felt a little something,” Johnson said.

“To be honest, I wish I could figure out what it is, what the reason is for it,” Strasburg said. “I felt it just warming up today. I came in and literally just moved my hand around a little bit, just did like some squeezing exercises, and it went away. I went out and threw, felt great. I don’t know what’s going on, but I think it works better for the club to … give it a couple extra days, let Gio and Jordan go ahead and get it done and get after it on Saturday.”

Once he started throwing, Strasburg said he had no issues. “It felt good,” he said. The discomfort occurs when he tries warming up.

“I don’t really know why it’s happening,” he said. “But it happens. It’s like a strong cramp. I think it would put us in a bind if I went out there and felt it. We’d definitely be down some pitchers.”

Strasburg was evaluated by team doctor Wiemi Douoguih and his arm was structurally sound.  “It’s just part of being September, and that’s pretty much it,” Strasburg said. He said he isn’t too concerned “because when I get nice and loose, it feels 100 percent.” He said he could pitch through it but didn’t want to put the team in a bad spot should the discomfort flare up on the mound.

“He tried to talk me out of it,” Johnson said. “I said no. Play catch a couple more days. I don’t want to take any chances with you.”

Johnson said that Strasburg didn’t have any issues with his forearm playing catch or throwing this week until Wednesday. After Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman will start Friday on regular rest and Strasburg will follow. Johnson said he believes Strasburg will have no problem making his next start, after missing two, because he will play catch and run.

“It’s just not worth the risk,” Johnson said. “He wanted to go tomorrow and I said no. End of story.”

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 18, 2013