Bill Ladson

Back in alignment, Strasburg raring to go

Nationals righty left Tuesday's start after three innings with back tightness, not shoulder issue

Back in alignment, Strasburg raring to go

WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg had a bullpen session Saturday and said he felt normal and would be ready to pitch next week, possibly in Arizona, where the Nats will face the D-backs from Monday through Wednesday.

Strasburg left Tuesday's game against the Marlins after three innings because of problems with his back. He went to a chiropractor that same day and had the problem fixed. Strasburg made it known that he did not have a shoulder issue. He emphasized it was back tightness and he believes changing his mechanics was the reason for the problem.

Strasburg was throwing across his body quite a bit, so the plan is to have better alignment while throwing toward home plate. During the bullpen session on Saturday, it was the first time Strasburg didn't have to tape his ankle in order to have that better alignment.

"It was more of a mental thing. I felt good," Strasburg said. "I didn't feel bad and it helped my alignment a little better. That's all you can ask for. I'll keep plugging away. I'll play catch tomorrow and be ready to go when my name is called."

But manager Matt Williams said he would wait until Sunday before determining Strasburg's next start.

"We'll see how he feels tomorrow -- a natural progression," Williams said. "He had the treatment, he had the adjustment, he got everything he needed to get. He threw on flat ground, played catch, threw a bullpen. So we have to see how he comes out of that. We'll have a much better idea tomorrow after he gets here. All indications are that he is feeling much better. That's a positive sign for us."

In the second inning Tuesday, Williams, pitching coach Steve McCatty and athletic trainer Lee Kuntz went to the mound to check on Strasburg. But he stayed in the game until right-hander Doug Fister came in as a pinch-hitter in the third inning.

Strasburg has been dealing with the back problem since his April 30 outing against the Mets. But he battled through it, pitching 5 1/3 innings for his second win of the season.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.