By Lewis Gould
Nats pitcher Stephen Strasburg has been placed on the injured list with a neck strain.
On Tuesday, Strasburg left his start against the Atlanta Braves in the second inning because of muscle tightness, manager Dave Martinez said. The prized pitcher’s right trapezius muscle never got loose, according to Martinez, leading to the Nationals pulling him from the game after just 30 pitches and 1 1/3 innings.
“It’s concerning,” Martinez said after the game. “I’m not going to say it wasn’t on my mind all night.”
Strasburg, who insisted he could pitch through the tightness, appeared to be uncomfortable in the first inning, leading trainers to visit him on the mound after the first batter of the game. His fastball hovered around 89-90 mph, and the last pitch he threw was 91.
“He waved us off, but I told him, ‘We gotta be smart, Stephen. We gotta see what’s going on and hopefully you come back soon,’” Martinez said. “I always say there’s still a lot of baseball. But we need him healthy.”
The three-time All-Star was removed after he appeared to be hit by a line drive by William Contreras that he fielded to get the out. The replay showed the comebacker, with an exit velocity of 109.6 mph, just glanced off the heel of Strasburg’s glove. Martinez and a trainer visited the mound again and Strasburg exited the game.
A World Series champion, Strasburg is 1-2 with a 4.43 ERA through four starts this season. Tuesday marked his third start since missing more than a month on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation.