Nationals Stephen Strasburg suffers another setback in recovery from nerve irritation
BALTIMORE - Stephen Strasburg had an "uncomfortable" feeling in his neck after throwing a bullpen session Wednesday, according to Washington Nationals Manager Dave Martinez, marking another setback in his attempt to return from nerve irritation. Hes been on the injured list since June 2 and will be there a while longer.
"We backed him down again and now we're going to have to figure something else out," Martinez said Friday before the Nationals' game against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. "I know they're going to look at some different options, see if we can find another specialist for him to go see. But as of right now, this continues to happen to him, so we need to figure something else out. . . . It's unfortunate. I know he's trying really hard to get back on that mound."
In the week before the all-star break, Strasburg was nearing a rehab assignment before he felt this same discomfort after throwing a bullpen in San Diego. This week, he threw 32 pitches on Monday, long-tossed on Tuesday and felt good enough to throw 28 more pitches off the mound Wednesday before the Nationals were forced to ease his workload. Each step backward raises the question of whether Strasburg will make another start this season.
He has logged 21 2/3 innings this season and just 26 2/3 innings since signing a seven-year, $245 million contract in December 2019. He has had two recent IL stints - the first for a strained right shoulder in April and May, the second still going - and carpal tunnel surgery last August.
"We got to figure out what really is causing this," Martinez said. "He can go out in two days or three days and play long-toss, get himself ready to throw again. But what's to say it doesn't happen again to him? We've been through this process a few times already, and it just happens to keep coming back, it keeps getting irritated, so we need to figure out what's next for him medically."
Heading into their weekend series in Baltimore, and with a week until the trade deadline, the Nationals are without Strasburg, starter Joe Ross (right elbow inflammation), left fielder Kyle Schwarber (right hamstring strain), starting catcher Yan Gomes (left oblique strain), backup catcher Alex Avila (bilateral calf strains), and relievers Tanner Rainey (stress reaction in his right tibia), Kyle McGowin (right biceps tendinitis) and Will Harris (thoracic outlet syndrome).
Friday's pregame brought positive steps for a handful of the sidelined players. Ross threw a bullpen. Schwarber took batting practice on the field for the first time since his injury. Avila did, too. Gomes took 40 swings in the batting cage, felt good afterward and, if that continues, will go on a minor league rehab assignment to test his oblique in game action.
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Starlin Castro's administrative leave has been extended through July 29, according to Major League Baseball's communications office. As initially reported by The Athletic, MLB is investigating a domestic violence allegation against Castro.
Both Martinez and Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo said this week that they do not expect Castro to rejoin the Nationals.