PITTSBURGH — Gio Gonzalez’s planned throwing session Friday — his first since going on the disabled list Sunday — was called off after the Nationals left-hander noted stiffness in his injured shoulder.
Manager Matt Williams expressed no concern about the development, referring to it as “normal” and saying Gonzalez simply will be pushed back a day
“We set out the plan and try to go to that plan, but sometimes you’ve got to make adjustments,” Williams said prior to the Nationals’ game against the Pirates. “It’s only a day. I think he’ll be good to go tomorrow. … We’ll just push him a day.”
Despite the lack of concern from the Nationals, until Gonzalez is able to resume throwing with no shoulder discomfort, there will be at least some lingering question about the state of his left arm, which had held up remarkably well for seven big-league seasons until this issue emerged last month.
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Gonzalez has been pitching with shoulder discomfort for several weeks before he was placed on the 15-day DL earlier this week with what the team diagnosed as inflammation. An enhanced MRI revealed no structural damage, suggesting Gonzalez dodged a bullet on the first injury of his major-league career.
Per the club’s plan, Gonzalez took five days off to let the inflammation calm down before attempting to throw again. He planned to play catch on flat ground before batting practice Friday but reported the shoulder stiffness before getting started. He was going to work on more strengthening exercises before taking another crack at it Saturday.
The timetable for Gonzalez’s ultimate return remains undecided.
“It depends on him and how he feels and what he feels like when he gets to his bullpen and beyond,” Williams said. “It’s still kind of up in the air. We don’t know. But the good thing is, he’s strengthening and continuing to treat it. He’ll get back out there and start throwing flat ground and stretch it out and then get in the bullpen.”
Gonzalez might be able to avoid a minor-league rehab stint if he’s able to face live hitters in a simulated game. But the longer he’s out — he’s eligible to return as soon as June 2 — the more likely he’ll need to re-build his innings in actual game situations.
In the meantime, right-hander Blake Treinen — who allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings Thursday night and currently owns a 1.56 ERA over 17 1/3 big-league innings — will remain in the Nationals’ rotation and fill Gonzalez’s spot.
“That’s the plan,” Williams said. “He will make his next turn five days from now (Tuesday against the Marlins).