Stephen Strasburg scratched from Tuesday's start

Updated: July 27, 2010, 11:20 PM ET
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Rookie sensation Stephen Strasburg was diagnosed with inflammation in his pitching shoulder after being scratched from his scheduled start for the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night because he had problems warming up his prized and powerful right arm.

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Strasburg had "stiffness and discomfort" in his right shoulder, but an MRI and X-ray show no structural damage.

"Given a couple days' rest and anti-inflammatories, he should be better," Rizzo said.

The Nationals did not make Strasburg available for comment, saying he went for tests immediately after he encountered trouble. He was supposed to start Tuesday's game against the Atlanta Braves; instead, Miguel Batista was summoned on short notice and earned the win with five shutout innings in Washington's 3-0 victory.

Rizzo said Strasburg is day to day and he's not certain when the righty will pitch next.

"We're still not sure where he's at," the GM said.

Earlier, Rizzo said Strasburg did not have "shooting pains or anything like that in his shoulder or elbow."

In nine starts for Washington, Strasburg is 5-2 with a 2.32 ERA, 75 strikeouts and 15 walks in 54 1-3 innings. He has won his past three starts.

Word of Strasburg's difficulty was relayed from pitching coach Steve McCatty to Rizzo by a team trainer, and shortly before the scheduled beginning of Tuesday's game, the Nationals PR staff announced that Strasburg would be replaced on the mound by Batista.

There were scattered boos when that news was delivered via the loudspeakers to fans at Nationals Park -- many of whom surely purchased tickets precisely in order to watch Strasburg throw his 100 mph fastballs and hitter-confounding breaking balls. There were more and louder boos before the third inning, when a picture of Strasburg was put on the scoreboard, alongside a written explanation of why he was sitting out.

Batista took the jeers in stride.

"Imagine if you go there to see Miss Universe and you end up having Miss Iowa, you might get those kind of boos. But it's OK," he said. "They had to understand that as an organization we have to make sure the kid is fine."

The Nationals have been quite careful in the way they have brought along Strasburg since choosing him with the No. 1 overall pick in the June 2009 amateur draft, then giving him a record $15.1 million contract right before the August 2009 deadline for getting deals done.

Even though Strasburg was dominant at times during spring training, he was moved to minor league camp in Florida, then began the season at Double-A Harrisburg. The righty was promoted to Triple-A Syracuse in early May, before making his much-anticipated major league debut June 8 -- and, somehow, surpassing the hype by striking out 14 batters in a 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

He left that game after seven innings, part of the pattern of easing him into the rigors of the major leagues. The Nationals have said they would end Strasburg's season when he reaches 160 innings, even if that cap were to come in late August or early September.

So far in 2010, he's thrown 109 2-3 innings total, including in the minors, which essentially matches his count in his final college season at San Diego State: 109 innings.

"We're going to use common sense and be cautious like we have," Rizzo said. "This is a workload that he's never seen before."

The GM said Strasburg, who turned 22 on July 20, showed no signs of any issues during the time since his last start, a 7-3 victory at Cincinnati last Wednesday. Rizzo said the pitcher was fine while throwing a side session and a "clean" bullpen session, then playing catch Monday.

Batista wound up pitching five scoreless innings, allowing three hits, all singles. He had six strikeouts and one walk.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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