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Report: Stephen Strasburg exits start early with strained right oblique (updated)

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

Update: According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Nationals manager Davey Johnson is calling Stephen Strasburg's injury a strained right oblique. It's a problem Strasburg later admitted has been nagging him for a couple starts. When he puts it that way, he should probably consider himself lucky if this doesn't cost him more than a couple starts. There's really no sense pitching through any type of discomfort, but Strasburg is determined to prove he's a workhorse on the hill. Unfortunately, that journey will be detoured again, but this is still a far better report than a potential arm injury.

Strasburg will likely be evaluated over the weekend where a timetable for his return will be determined.

Original Post: We've seen how truly great Stephen Strasburg can be when healthy. Unfortunately, the 24-year-old right-hander has found staying healthy to be the biggest challenge of his short four-year career.

That includes his latest ailment which popped up in the middle of his start against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on Friday night. The Washington Nationals ace was only able to work two innings — in which he allowed a solo home run to Freddie Freeman and struck out two — before leaving with what the team is calling a muscular issue in his lower back.

That's actually worth a huge sigh of relief considering the amount of concern that quickly built during the 45 minute gap between his departure and the team's announcement. It was fueled even more by those watching closely who noted Strasburg looked uncomfortable throughout his start and at times could be seen grimacing.

You always think the worst (surgically repaired elbow or shoulder in Strasburg's case), but that isn't to say a back injury can't be complicated. They certainly can, and as we've seen so many times they tend to be lingering and unpredictable in nature if not treated efficiently. We certainly hope that's not the case for Strasburg, but for now the news is relatively good. Getting him out of the game as quickly as they did may have saved them a number of long-term headaches both with his back and with his arm had his mechanics been altered in any way.

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