BALTIMORE -- Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who was scheduled to start Monday's game against the Orioles, was scratched because of right elbow soreness and placed on the 15-day disabled list. The Nats have recalled right-hander A.J. Cole, who is replacing Strasburg in the rotation.
Even though manager Dusty Baker didn't have any concerns about Strasburg's health after his past three starts -- including his last outing on Wednesday in which he gave up nine runs in 1 2/3 innings against the Rockies -- the righty will now be out until at least Sept. 6.
According to Strasburg, the injury is not serious, but his elbow has been bothering him since after the All-Star break. He said he lost his range of motion, and the recovery time between starts became a challenge. With rest, Strasburg hopes he has great performances down the stretch.
"[The Nationals] thought it was [in my] best interest to let [the elbow] recover now, instead of trying to gut it out and not be available later on," Strasburg said. "It's frustrating, but it's part of the game. You go through these little blips and stuff. With what I've been working on here, it's going to help me in the long run.
"Being a Tommy John guy and being able to get through the grind of the season, there is just a little more maintenance to go with it. I'm still learning those things."
According to general manager Mike Rizzo, Strasburg did not have an MRI on his elbow. The most recent MRI was before Strasburg signed his seven-year, $175 million extension in May. Rizzo is convinced Strasburg's elbow is structurally sound.
"We had a recent MRI [on Strasburg] and everything checked out," Rizzo said.
Baker said he found out about Strasburg's injury on Saturday, when the right-hander said his elbow was stiff. The next day, he picked up a ball, but Baker told Strasburg to put it down and that now isn't the time to be a hero. Strasburg, according to Baker, was against going on the DL.
"I said, 'No, let's go check it out. We have a long way to go,'" Baker said. "I told him, 'We haven't won anything yet. We have to look at the big picture on this.' He is going to be around a long time. Hopefully, he'll be good in September and hopefully October."
For now, Strasburg is able to do shoulder and running exercises. It's not like he will have to start over from zero, according to Baker.
Cole, who was 8-8 with a 4.26 ERA for Triple-A Syracuse, is the Nationals' No. 13 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com. Cole was with the big league team last week to serve as a long reliever because the bullpen was overworked, but he never saw any action and he was optioned to Syracuse after Friday's game against the Braves.
"He is ready," Rizzo said. "He was on rotation. We thought he was the best option that we had to pitch on a Monday on short notice."
Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 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.