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Stephen Strasburg headed to disabled list

[updated: 12:15 p.m.]
The Nationals placed 22-year-old phenom Stephen Strasburg on the disabled list with an inflamed right right shoulder before Thursday's game, eliminating any chance he will pitch Sunday and placing his remarkable rookie season on pause.

"They're talking every precaution with me," Strasburg said. "It's feeling great already. I'm making big strides. I'm just going to keep getting better, keep getting stronger, and when the time comes I'm going to be ready to go."

Since Strasburg has not pitched since July 21, he could return to the rotation as soon as Aug. 6. That seems unlikely given the necessary caution the Nationals are taking. Strasburg, though, will travel with the Nationals and believes he could pitch again shortly after he is eligible.

"That's what they told me," Strasburg said.

The Nationals believe Strasburg will return before the end of the season. "Absolutely," Manager Jim Riggleman said. They will also continue will utmost prudence in protecting Strasburg's right arm.

"If he's 90 percent healthy, we shut him down," Riggleman said. "He's got to be 100 percent. If there's any negativity that comes out of his voice, from his words, from the doctor, the trainer, Steve McCatty, any information we get that is negative, he's not pitching. But if everything is positive, then he's going to pitch."

The Nationals, Riggleman said, will not be motivated to pitch Strasburg in order to raise his potential innings limit for next season. Strasburg will be capped at 160 total innings this season, a 20-perent increase from last year's total. The Nationals will make the same rate of increase for next season. So if Strasburg only throws a handful of innings, the Nationals will have to shut him down in the middle of next season.

"But that would be OK," Riggleman said. "We'll take that. That's not really a concern. You know, you can't put him out there at less than 100 percent to build up his innings so that you can pitch him more next year. You might have him less next year if you did that. That will be way down on the priority list."

Although Riggleman said on an MLB Network XM radio show this morning that Strasburg will be shut down for about 10 days, he told reporters that Strasburg might play catch Saturday if his shoulder continues to feel better.

Despite the overall cautious approach, the Nationals will not hold Strasburg back if he returns to 100 percent.

"If he's healthy and you don't pitch him, what purpose does that serve?" Riggleman said. "He's not learning anything. He's not 60 feet, 6 inches watching how hitters are reacting to swings against him. He's not getting a catalog of information about them, and he's 100 percent healthy. That doesn't really make any sense.

"If he's 100 percent, this is a competitive situation. You're supposed to be trying to win. If you've got a guy that's 100 percent healthy and hasn't reached any innings limits and so forth and he's ready to go and you're not pitching him, the integrity of the game is there a little bit. If I've got a guy who's 100 percent healthy and he's scheduled to pitch against the Cardinals and I don't pitch him, if I'm the Reds I'm thinking, 'What's going on? We're competing with the Cardinals, but you're going to shut your big boy down against them? He pitched against us.' Our first priority is to take care of Stephen Strasburg for the future of this organization. How many innings he ends up with is not the priority. In that case, if you've got a guy who is 100 percent healthy, it's hard to justify not pitching him."

The Nationals have not decided on a starter for Sunday, although Miguel Batista seems to be the leading candidate. Jason Marquis, who made a rehab start last night, would have to pitch on three days rest and "I don't think we'll do that," Riggleman said.

Batista made the emergency start in Strasburg's place Tuesday, pitching five shutout innings and leading the Nats to a 3-0 victory. The Nationals may have to use Batista in relief over the next three games, and if they do they will have to cull Sunday's starter from the minor leagues. Batista's performance Tuesday night engendered support for Batista within the Nationals clubhouse.

"He deserves to make that start," one Nationals player said. "He pitched good. He pitched really good."

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 29, 2010; 11:45 AM ET
Categories:  Stephen Strasburg  
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Next: Game 102 discussion thread: Nationals vs. Braves


I'm looking for him to start 8/10, a couple days past the end of the 10-day shutdown and the first game of the homestand.

Posted by: lmf-DC | July 29, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

There's an abundance of caution, there's an overabundance of caution, and there's the nagging suspicion the Nationals aren't telling everything.

Posted by: greggwiggins | July 29, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I say hand Miss Iowa the ball again for Sunday.

Posted by: dfh21 | July 29, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

This is really screwing up the Yankees' 2017 roster (yukyukyukyuk).

Posted by: tslats | July 29, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

So what has Strasburg pitched, about a dozen games, and he is already used up? Talk about a flash in the pan.

Posted by: screwjob18 | July 29, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

This guy makes Albert Haynesworth seem like Iron Horse Lou Gehrig. If Ripken played for the Nationals, he'd be limited to 120 games per season.

Posted by: ShovelPlease | July 29, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

So ShovelPlease, you and Jim Bunning would rather have the NATS blow out his arm? Take shovel and.....

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | July 29, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

UGGGH I actually planned a trip to LA to see him on Aug 6th, I need Rupert Murdock to send a check to the Lerners so they cant tell Rizzo to stop being such a baby with him.

Posted by: raybell84 | July 29, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

At what point will all of this attention and pandering to Strasburg's every sniffle begin having a negative effect on the team? And at what point will it begin to have a neagative effect on Strasburg? The poor guy is going to end up afraid of his own shadow. The only way I was finally able to get back to normal after my quadruple by-pass was to learn to say f--- it to every little pain and twinge and get on with my life.

Posted by: fluffy4 | July 29, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

At his current innnings limit the club has placed on SS, he would be done well before the end of the season. That would mean a drop in attendance and I am sure the Lerners are quite pleased with the gate reciepts since bringing him up. Shutting him down early would cost the club money and this delay would help keep the fans coming until later in the season. Still, I want to see him pitch!

Posted by: splitbill | July 29, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

In light of "If he's 90 percent healthy, we shut him down," Riggleman said. "He's got to be 100 percent.", I'm debating which I think is correct:

Will you do that for every player on the team (because how can you not be as concerned for lesser talented, lesser capable, lesser physically gifted players).
Or, isn't a 90 percent Stephen Strasburg better than virtually everyone else at 100 percent? (After all,all we keep hearing on sports talk radio and in many of these on-line discussions about how Strasburg is the best pitcher in baseball today, the greatest pitcher in history, etc. And now we're suggesting that he might be human? Might be mortal like other players?)

While I have no problems with removing him from the line-up if he's not ready (physically or mentally), but after all the hype about how he's the greatest ever, he's removed because he can't loosen up?

Posted by: Dungarees | July 29, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

I am not a believer in jinxes but when it comes to Washington baseball, I may be changing my mind. Is it really too much to ask of the baseball gods to let us have some fun for more than a month every 100 years or so?

Posted by: Meridian1 | July 29, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Dungarees, are you from the planet Mars? Seriously, dude.

Posted by: shanks1 | July 29, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

So does this mean he'll have to give back his Rookie of the Year, all those Cy Youngs, and resign from Cooperstow--What?

He hasn't? ... You're kidding me...

Posted by: Ralphinjersey | July 29, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

It absolutely makes sense to shut him down. He is the Nationals Franchise, and this is a year where we have no postseason hopes. It's not like the Nats really need him now. Thus, risking injuring him at all is entirely unwarranted.

However, isn't Strasburg ambidextrous?

Posted by: rlwasserman | July 29, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Well there goes $12 mill down the toilet. Anyone remember Dizzy Dean and his toe?
Anyway 2-3 more years and the Nat's are headed to Bosie. Hey whatever happened to Tony Williams and any other members of the City Council who voted tax payer money for this "team?"

Did Uncle Ted ever pay his tax bill or has that been somehow forgotten?

Posted by: KBlit | July 29, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

C'mon, folks, does anybody remember Mark Fidrych? It's accepted wisdom today that a young pitcher's arm is a special case: You go to great pains not to wear it out as the guy matures and builds endurance for a couple of seasons. Limit his pitches in each outing; limit his innings for the season. (SS has thrown no more than 99 pitches in his starts.) If the Nats injured that arm, we all would be screaming for blood, and so would baseball fans, players and executives throughout the majors who want Strasburg pitching and filling stadiums for years to come.

Posted by: jeff55b | July 29, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Strasburg is the real deal. Being cautious with him is the right move.

Posted by: mwalsh3a | July 29, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Jim Bunning is an azz. He has been teabagged to many times.

Posted by: BKane32 | July 29, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

"If Ripken played for the Nationals, he'd be limited to 120 games per season."

Ripken's not a pitcher. Zimmerman is our closest player to Cal, and he's had seasons of 157, 162, and 157 to go along with 106 in an injury year.

Posted by: 202character | July 29, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

This is no big deal, yet. They are only planning on pitching him like 160 innings and the Nats are not in a pennant race. I'd hate for him to be the next Mark "the Bird" Fidrich (sp?). So many phenoms burned out before their time from over use. Let's enjoy the Strasburg ride next year and hope for a better '11.

Posted by: rsteffens1 | July 29, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I understand that Riggleman doesn't want to be seen as the manager who destroyed two phenoms (I doubt he destroyed even one) but this may be overcaution.

Posted by: Nemo24601 | July 29, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

15 days on the DL means he'll be shut down around Sept 15 instead of Sept 1. Same number of starts, no diff to the fans.

Posted by: zadok1 | July 29, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

"Anyway 2-3 more years and the Nat's are headed to Bosie."


Posted by: rufus_t_firefly | July 29, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

It's the right move to be overly-cautious with him. It seems excessive, but his arm is the future of the franchise, and they need him healthy.

I hope someone gave him stern word that if he doesn't feel 100% in the future, he needs to alert someone ASAP. And understand how he fits into the Nationals' future. I'd seen reports that perhaps he didn't feel 100% a couple days leading up to the scheduled start; not sure if that is true or not. The kid is a great competitor, has wonderful energy, and it's great that he wants to go out and compete every time he is scheduled to start. He is set to have a great career and be a significant help the Nationals. But he needs to be at 100%, understand his significance, and keep the team in the loop on his condition.

Posted by: mpbowlr | July 29, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Fidrych was not burned out through innings pitched. Yes, he pitched three 11 inning wins, but that was par for the course in 1976, where no one brought in a relief pitcher unless you needed to, and starting pitchers were expected to finish the game.

Posted by: Nemo24601 | July 29, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Another vote for being cautious - why blow out his arm for the long term when we're not even close to the playoffs?

In fact - I'm rather sick of the pitchers who give up 4,5,6 runs when they have fractured bones and torn ligaments and never say anything when they have the best sports doctors and equipment available.

Posted by: charley42 | July 29, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Maybe he could go Lefty?

Posted by: fearturtle44 | July 29, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

I have to admit I only watch the Nats when SS is pitching. It is like Pedro night was in Boston. He is 5-2, but could easily have been 9-0 with some offensive help. Dizzy Dean's toe? I thought I was old but that's before my time.

Posted by: rjma1 | July 29, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

It"s only a game. No, actually it's a business! The days of ballplayer's playing for the love of the game are all but gone. It's all about the $$$ now. No more doubleheaders, no 300 inning pitchers, no Cal Ripken streaks. Look for the game to become 7 innings before long.

Posted by: SnowJob | July 29, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Relax everyone. I am available to start in his place. I am much cheaper, highly entertaining, and one more loss really doesn't matter now does it?

Posted by: allknowingguy | July 29, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

No, this is not the end of the world. I'm inclined to believe the Nats on this one and think it's the right thing to do. He's limited to 160 IP this year, so what's the difference if they come in August or September? And just who are all these sudden "fans" who will only go to a game if he's pitching?

Posted by: InTheCheapSeats | July 29, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

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