[Here's my story on CSNwashington.com stating it's unlikely Strasburg will start Sunday against the Phillies.]
The Nationals have decided to shut down Stephen Strasburg for at least a couple of days while waiting to see if his right shoulder feels better, electing to take a continued cautious route with the rookie pitcher, who was a last-minute scratch from his scheduled start last night.
Manager Jim Riggleman wouldn't rule out the possibility of Strasburg pitching on schedule Sunday against the Phillies, but he would need to throw a bullpen session within a few days to be cleared for that.
UPDATE AT 5:40 P.M. -- Here are some of the key quotes from Riggleman's pregame press conference...
On when Strasburg will next start: "We don't have an update whether he's going to pitch Sunday or when he'll pitch again if not Sunday. We're just really going to give it another day or two before we do anything like that."
When would he need to throw this week to be ready to start Sunday? "Basically, we're going to watch him play catch in the outfield before he goes to the bullpen and throws. If all that takes place in time for him to have a side session and then pitch in his normal routine, we'll consider that. If not, then we just wouldn't pitch him Sunday."
Would you be surprised if he starts Sunday? "I don't want to say I'll be surprised, because then if I pitch him Sunday, it contradicts itself. But as you said, we've been cautious, and we'll continue to be cautious."
On how Strasburg feels: "He feels better. He woke up today better than he felt last night when he left. He's encouraged by the MRI. I wasn't aware, but I guess he's had a little history of this in college. So I think he's probably feeling like he's gone through this before and he'll be fine."
How were his spirits? "I think he was a little down. I think probably because he feels like, when you're a starting pitcher ... you get to do that every fifth day and you're really looking for that day. You really want to do that. And then you don't get to do it for five more. So when one gets taken away from you, now it's 10 days in between. And it could be more. It's got to be a little depressing. That's what turns you on: You get to go out there and compete and he didn't get a chance to do that. I think he's a little down about that."
If he doesn't start Sunday, could he pitch soon after that, or would he need a long layoff? "I think there's a scenario where if he's throwing a couple bullpen sessions, keeps his arm going and stuff like that, maybe even face a few hitters of our own out there ... I think there's a way we could keep him fresh and ready to go without extending the time down where he faces major-league hitters. It wouldn't be that long a time where he was down, as opposed to what Marquis and Olsen and all those guys had when they went down. They had a long period of time without throwing, so they had to start over. I don't think we're at that point with Stephen."
UPDATE AT 6:12 P.M. -- Strasburg just held a little press conference outside the Nationals' clubhouse. He said his shoulder had been bothering him for a couple of days, so he had felt something prior to last night. He didn't sound overly concerned, though, and described the whole thing as a "good learning experience" for understanding how his body feels now that he's pitching a full season as a professional.
More quotes coming...
UPDATE AT 6:46 P.M. -- Here's the full transcript of Strasburg's media session...
What happened yesterday? "I just went out there, I felt tight a little bit. I wanted to go out there to keep it loosened up. It was just one of those days where it was tighter than normal. I'm just at the point in the season where I'm kind going down
uncharted territory. Got to be smart right and look at the big picture."
What were your emotions? "It definitely wasn't the greatest feeling not being able to out there and pitch yesterday. Obviously through the whole process, watching the game and everything, they performed really well. It was great to see that, but I know they're going to need me more for than just one game, and I've just got to make sure everything gets back going the right way and look toward the future."
Comparing this pain to what he had in college: "Very similar. They kind of put me on the same program that I'm on now. Just kind of hitting the wall a little bit. Like I said going in uncharted territory here. Just got to be smart about it. Got to work hard and just got to work with Lee every day and get back soon."
How are you feeling today? "I feel a lot better. My range of motion, after going and doing some stretching and everything, it's starting to come back to me. Made big strides today. I'm not going to jump the gun, just going to take it day by day and hopefully go out there, meet with the trainer tomorrow and get better."
What's your realistic goal on getting out there next week? "We're taking it day by day right now. We're going to see how it feels tomorrow, and then after tomorrow see how it feels the next day."
Were you scared at all?
"I wasn't really scared because it's kind of something that I've had happen to me before. It wasn't on just one pitch so that's obviously a big thing. Like I said, it's just at this point in the year where Ive just got to really push through it and the biggest thing is getting my range of motion back, making sure that I'm flexible, and everything's feeling nice and loose, and just really pushing, pushing through this grind. I wasn't concerned by no means. It's just something that they've got to do just to make sure. I knew in my mind that it was nothing too serious."
Is it sore today? "No, I mean, it's not sore because I didn't go out there and pitch yesterday. It was a little tight yesterday but it's a bit looser today and I'm just going to try and get that range of motion back."
When do you feel it? "More it's when I ... after I throw the ball, when I finish. Obviously you have to have some decelerators in your body to kind of slow your body down. It's really, I've been learning a lot here and when you're playing this many games throughout the season, you're going to start feeling things in your body that you wouldn't otherwise thought you'd feel. You know, little things getting to feel a little off. So it's a good learning process for me. It really is a blessing in disguise because I know what this feels like to get to the 100-game point, getting right up to this many innings. And I know how to prepare for it now and next year, God willing, this won't happen again and we'll be in playoff contention."
When did you first feel something? "I already answered that. I already answered it. It was, like, a couple days ago, it was just feeling a little bit tighter than usual. So, it just happens."