MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Tight muscle in neck puts Strasburg on DL

Tight muscle in neck puts Strasburg on DL

CINCINNATI -- Stephen Strasburg exited Friday's series opener vs. the Reds, a 5-2 Nationals loss, in the bottom of the second inning with what the team says is a tight muscle in his neck. The club placed the right-hander on the 15-day disabled list before Saturday's game.

After the right-hander allowed a leadoff walk to Brayan Pena, manager Matt Williams, pitching coach Steve McCatty and the team's head athletic trainer went to the mound. Strasburg did not throw another pitch; he was removed by Williams and replaced by Taylor Jordan, who was in the restroom when he received word that he would be entering the game.

Strasburg allowed one run on two hits in his one-plus innings. The one run scored on Joey Votto's solo home run.

"We'll see how he is tomorrow," said Williams. "We'll see what he shows up with. This [injury] is new, so we have to address it."

Strasburg on neck tightness

After the game, Strasburg said his neck was stiff and that he started feeling pain in the top of the second inning.

"I don't know why. I felt fine the first inning," Strasburg said. "Once I sat down in the second, I felt it kind of tighten up. I put some hot stuff on it, and it just progressed. It's really hard to turn my head to the left. It was something where I couldn't ... be effective. I didn't want to push it too much."

Strasburg is off to slow start this season. In 10 starts, he is 3-5 with a 6.55 ERA.

Before Friday's game, general manager Mike Rizzo said that Strasburg was healthy and feeling good.

"When he is feeling healthy and he says he is healthy, his stuff shows me that he is healthy, [and] he is proven to be one of the top pitchers in the league," Rizzo said. "I think he hasn't pitched the way he wants to. We have seen flashes of it, but he hasn't been consistent enough."

This is Strasburg's second injury scare this season. On May 5, against the Marlins, he exited after three innings because of tightness in his back, but he never missed a start. He missed most of the 2011 reason following Tommy John surgery.

"I'm trying to go out there, work through it and help this team win. It's just something I have to pull through and ride it out," Strasburg said. "I know it's going to get better eventually."

Strasburg's injury trouble this season has elicited sympathy from teammates.

"There's the fine line when you have to look at yourself in the mirror and say, 'OK, it's time for me to shut it down and figure it out and get healthy," Ian Desmond said. "I think he is at that crossroad right now, to where it's like, what do I do? Hopefully, he recovers fine and makes his next start. Most important, take care of your body, take care of yourself."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com 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.