Stephen Strasburg was scratched Saturday because of a nerve problem in his right hand which required an injection Friday.
Davey Martinez said, "hopefully this is a day-to-day thing."
Erick Fedde will start Saturday night against the New York Yankees in Strasburg's place. Fedde is on turn after losing the fifth starter competition to Austin Voth. Fedde was the long man out of the bullpen before this emergency start.
As for Strasburg, he felt irritation in his hand for weeks before it increased during his Monday start in Baltimore. Over the past few days, his irritation did not subside. That led the Nationals medical staff to do a nerve hydrodissection with a cortisone shot.
"Something that didn't really know what was going on [at first]," Strasburg said. "Started out, probably, like the end of the first week of camp. I was waking up in the middle of the night and my hand was asleep. Kept falling asleep and I was getting these feelings, and it wasn't really bothering me throwing. It seemed like once I tried starting to ramp up and stuff, the symptoms started to increase. It really's something the last two [intrasquad] games was feeling it pretty regularly. Just something you try to throw through. After I got out of the last start problems, issues, just kept persisting. Saw that there was nerve impingement in my wrist. Got a cortisone shot to hopefully create more space in there to get it to calm down and get back to normal."
Here's what a hydrodissection is, according to a medical journal:
Nerve hydrodissection is a technique used when treating peripheral nerve entrapments. It involves using an anesthetic or solution such as saline to separate the nerve from the surrounding tissue, fascia, or adjacent structures.
Strasburg threw 81 pitches in five innings Monday against the Orioles after a rapid return to the mound when Major League Baseball hustled back for Summer Camp.
Martinez said the pain runs from Strasburg's wrist to his right thumb. He also said Strasburg's forearm -- he's gone through flexor tendon strains there prior -- is fine, as is the rest of his arm. Strasburg has also coped with nerve issues in the past.
"That was the thing," Strasburg said. "My arm felt pretty good. You kind of anticipate [pain] when you try to ramp up very quickly after throwing into a net for four months. You know you're going to be dealing with some things. It got to the point where I didn't have the same feeling in my hand holding the ball. It was affecting my ability to command the baseball the way I'm accustomed to. It's something that I feel like if I take some time now to get that feeling back to normal, I can be out there much sooner than if I try to just gut it out at this point."
Strasburg signed a seven-year, $245 million contract in the offseason. His long-term health is the major key. He said Friday's injection began helping his hand and fingers feel better less than 24 hours later. Now, they wait.
The Nationals are already without Juan Soto, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday and entered quarantine Thursday. Saturday, they face the Yankees without Strasburg or Soto in a season which continues to throw challenges their way, though it has barely begun.
"This is when you talk about those bumpy roads," Martinez said. "It's day-to-day. I keep telling those guys, we'll get through it if we stick together. We knew we were going to have difficulties. It's part of the game. We've just got to hang in there and hopefully this is not no major issue for Stras and he's back soon."
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