WASHINGTON -- After Wednesday night's 5-2 loss to the Braves, Nationals manager Davey Johnson announced that Stephen Strasburg would have his scheduled start Thursday against the Marlins pushed back. Gio Gonzalez will start Thursday and Strasburg will return on Saturday, barring any further setbacks.
Strasburg was unexpectedly scratched from his previous start last Friday with right forearm tightness, which might have occurred when the right-hander was experimenting with a new pitch the previous day in New York. The right-hander rested for two days, threw a "great" bullpen session on Monday and said Tuesday that he was prepared to start Thursday's series opener as planned.
However, Strasburg had trouble getting loose Wednesday afternoon and still felt some tightness.
"He felt a little something there [in the forearm], but he wanted to pitch," Johnson said. "I said, 'Well, no way. I got guys on full rest. I'll pitch them and you can be in the lineup for Saturday.' So it's my decision."
Strasburg described the feeling as a "strong cramp" that bothered him when he was warming up Wednesday afternoon. He felt the tightness and took a break, moving his hand and squeezing it a bit. Then the feeling dissipated and he returned to the field and felt fine.
"I don't really know why it's happening," Strasburg said. "When it happens, it happens. It's like a strong cramp, so I just think I would put us in a bind if I went out there and felt it. We'd definitely be down some pitchers."
Johnson said last week that Strasburg's injury is not related to the surgically-repaired ligament in the right-hander's elbow. Strasburg was examined by team doctor Wiemi Douoguih, who assured him that the arm is structurally sound.
"I wouldn't say I'm too concerned, because when I get nice and loose, it feels 100 percent. The tough thing is getting loose," Strasburg said. "I think it's just part of it being September and that's pretty much it."
Johnson said that Strasburg wanted to pitch Thursday, but the manager ultimately decided to hold him back as a precaution.
"It's just not worth the risks," Johnson said. "He wanted to go tomorrow. I said no."
Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.