Thursday, July 29, 2010, 10:30 a.m, updated 11:30 a.m, updated 11:58 a.m., updated 12:26 p.m.
By Mark Zuckerman
Staying true to their ultra-cautious plan with Stephen Strasburg, the Washington Nationals placed the rookie right-hander on the 15-day disabled list this morning with shoulder inflammation.
The move is retroactive to July 22 (the day after Strasburg last pitched) so hes eligible to return as soon as August 7. The Nationals, though, are likely to wait until the team returns from next weeks west-coast trip before activating the 22-year-old, putting him in line to make his next start sometime during the August 10-12 home series against the Florida Marlins.
Asked if he believes Strasburg will return to pitch in the majors this season, manager Jim Riggleman replied: Absolutely.
The DL move cleared roster space for the Nationals to activate Scott Olsen, Thursday afternoon's starter against the Atlanta Braves, after the left-hander's own, two-month DL stint with shoulder inflammation.
Strasburg, who was a last-minute scratch from his scheduled start Tuesday night after noting shoulder tightness during his warm-up session, said he understands the teams decision to disable him even though he has felt better the last two days.
Its out of my control, so Im not really going to worry about it, he said. Its whats best for the team. ... Im just going to keep working hard, and when they activate me, Ill be ready to go.
Strasburg will remain with the team and make next weeks trip to Arizona and Los Angeles to continue rehabbing. Somewhere along the way, hell hope to resume throwing again, first on flat ground, then in the bullpen, then possibly against live hitters.
The top overall pick in last summers draft, Strasburg is trying to look at this as good learning experience for a young pitcher who has already thrown more innings (109 23 combined between the minors and majors) this year than he ever did as an amateur. He talked about developing a better understanding of how his body will feel through the rigors of a full baseball season.
I mean, theyre talking every precaution with me, he said. Its feeling great already. Im making big strides. Im just going to keep getting better, keep getting stronger, and when the time comes Im going to be ready to go.
For now, the Nationals have every reason to believe Strasburg will return to pitch again this season. Theres an obvious motivation to getting him back on the mound: So he can add more innings to his tally and thus set him up to surpass the 160-inning mark in 2011. Riggleman, though, insisted thats not a significant factor as the club moves forward.
Thats not really a concern, Riggleman said. You know, you cant 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.
Mark Zuckerman covered the Nationals for The Washington Times from 2005-09. In addition to regular work this season for CSNwashington.com, he also covers the team at www.natsinsider.com. Email Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.