WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg was scratched from Tuesday's start against the Braves after experiencing shoulder stiffness during his warmups in the bullpen. He is listed as day-to-day.
Instead, reliever Miguel Batista made the spot start for Washington. And he delivered with a brilliant effort, throwing five scoreless innings in his first start of the season as the Nationals shut out Braves, 3-0.
Strasburg, the No 1. overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, was warming up just minutes before the game when pitching coach Steve McCatty and trainer Lee Kuntz noticed that something was wrong with the right-hander after eight pitches. Strasburg, who was not available for comment, told McCatty that he was stiff but could pitch in the game.
Manager Jim Riggleman and general manager Mike Rizzo were informed about Strasburg's problem, with Rizzo pulling the plug on Strasburg's start.
"We are doing the right thing for him and the organization. That was it," McCatty said. "I told Strasburg, 'We are not going to take a chance.' There is no reason to."
There was no warning beforehand. Strasburg had a bullpen session during the past series in Milwaukee and played catch on Monday at Nationals Park without any problems.
"He was having problems getting loose in the bullpen, so I pulled the plug on it -- precautionary move," Rizzo said. "I just didn't want him to go out there when he was struggling to get loose in the bullpen. There is no shooting of pain or anything like that in his shoulder or elbow. He was just struggling to get loose."
Strasburg had an X-ray and an MRI taken on Tuesday. Inflammation was found inside the shoulder and Rizzo would not say when Strasburg would make his next start. Before the injury was announced, Strasburg was scheduled to pitch against the Phillies on Sunday.
According to Rizzo, Strasburg had similar problems while attending San Diego State University.
"He was examined by our doctor, Dr. [Wiemi] Douoguih, who gave him the labral test and capsule test, which [showed] he was fine," Rizzo said. "The X-ray was negative, which is a good thing. We sent him for an MRI, and the MRI shows no changes from his original MRI right after we signed him. No change there. No rotator cuff damage, no labral damage, so that's good news. He is diagnosed with a little inflammation in the shoulder. He'll be on anti-inflammatories, in treatment and his status is still day-to-day. We are still not sure where he is at."
Strasburg has pitched in nine games and is 5-2 with a 2.32 ERA. He has a team-leading 75 strikeouts.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.