Nationals' starter Gio Gonzalez was removed from Wednesday night's game in the sixth inning after complaining of tightness in his left shoulder.
The game time temperature was 54 degrees, a cold night for the 23rd of April, and manager Matt Williams described the move as precautionary. Gonzalez is not expected to miss any time at this point.
"It’s a cold night tonight," Williams said. "Gio had a little shoulder tightness tonight. Ordinarily I wouldn’t take him out of the game there. But we want to make sure he’s okay for our future, too. Cold and windy. He had a little bit of tightness. We wanted to make sure he’s okay. That’s the reason for that."
Gonzalez - who threw only 83 pitches before being removed - said his shoulder did not tighten up until late into his start.
"After the fifth inning, just started getting a little colder. Felt a little tight. And Matt just started seeing that in the sixth inning. I feel fine now, did all my exercises, feel great."
Gonzalez is traditionally a very durable pitcher, the most reliable on the Nationals' staff. He has pitched at least 195 innings for four consecutive seasons and has never had a prolonged injury absence.
Williams believes Gonzalez' history bodes well for his current condition.
"He’s never really had an injury so we don’t expect this one to be an injury. Just a little tightness there so not taking any chances with him."
Gonzalez said he understood the decision, despite the circumstances of the game. The lefty had retired 11 straight batters before allowing a walk to Mike Trout and an RBI double to Albert Pujols. The score was tied at 1-1, and Gio was otherwise having a very good night.
"You understand it. We all are sitting down, going over it. We all had a great understanding about it," he said.
Reliever Aaron Barrett allowed Pujols to come home on a single two batters later for Gonzalez' second earned run. He finished with five innings pitched, four hits and three walks allowed, and five strikeouts.
Gonzalez took a no-decision in the Nats' 5-4 win and now holds a 3.00 ERA on the season.