Stephen Strasburg returning to injured list 

Stephen Strasburg returning to injured list 

WASHINGTON — Stephen Strasburg is going back on the injured list less than one week after returning from being sidelined for a year.

Strasburg, who was scheduled to start on Tuesday, had experienced discomfort after throwing his bullpen session on Saturday, and he underwent an MRI on Monday. Following the Nationals’ 9-5 loss to the Braves, manager Dave Martinez said he will have further information about Strasburg on Tuesday.

The 33-year-old right-hander had returned to the mound on Thursday, giving up seven runs on eight hits and two walks over 4 2/3 innings against the Marlins. Aside from fatigue in his legs, Strasburg told Martinez he felt good following his season debut.

But on Sunday, Strasburg alerted the team “he didn’t feel right.”

“We were hoping it was just something that would go away,” Martinez said. “It didn’t. … We don’t know if this is the same issue or not yet, but we’ll know more … as soon as we get the MRI and the doctors read the image. But it stinks, because he was all excited to be back. But hopefully it’s just a minor setback.”

The past two years have been marred by injuries for Strasburg. His 2020 season was limited to five innings because of carpal tunnel surgery in his right hand, and the following season was cut short at 21 2/3 frames for thoracic outlet surgery. Strasburg rehabbed diligently this spring at the Nationals’ training complex in West Palm Beach, Fla., and he tossed three Minor League rehab starts before being reinstated.

“This is a surgery that, after talking to doctors and trainers, is relatively new and it affects guys differently,” Martinez said of thoracic outlet surgery. “After the surgery, you just kind of see things in a broader spectrum and hope that they come back and they can pitch and all of a sudden they become somewhat the person they were before. But you just don’t know what to expect, you don’t know how long before you get sore. And I’ve seen this before on other guys, and it took them awhile. Some guys, a couple years before they were able to come back and really get over it and pitch. So hopefully, that’s not the case for Stephen. Like I said, this is so different for every pitcher.”

When healthy, Strasburg can anchor a starting rotation. After going 5-0 in the postseason and being named 2019 World Series MVP, he inked a seven-year, $245 million contract with the Nationals. Strasburg’s long-term health outweighs him pitching through discomfort in the here-and-now.

“As I said all along, we’re going to be as careful as possible with him and try to do everything right for Stephen and for this organization moving forward,” Martinez said. “Right now, we’re at those bumpy roads, and we’ll see what happens.”

The Nationals are filling Strasburg’s spot in the starting rotation on Tuesday by calling up right-hander Jackson Tetreault from Triple-A Rochester to make his Major League debut. Tetreault, 26, is 5-3 with a 4.19 ERA across 12 starts (58 innings) this season with the Red Wings. He is on schedule to pitch, having last taken the mound on Tuesday. The Nats selected Tetreault in the seventh round of the 2017 Draft.

“He’s been good,” Martinez said. “He’s got a mix of three different pitches. He throws strikes, which is nice. He’s been doing well down there, so we’re going to give him an opportunity to pitch here.”

Even though Josiah Gray did not make his scheduled start on Monday after the one-hour, 33-minute rain delay, the Nationals are treating his pregame warmup as a bullpen session, so he will not be available the following day.

“He will not pitch tomorrow,” Martinez said. “He got hot. He threw, I think, 37 pitches in the bullpen. I mean, he was hot, ready to go.”

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