(Here's the final version of my Strasburg story on CSNwashington.com, including the quote of the year from Miguel Batista. You'll have to click on the story to read it, but let's just say it immediately brought to mind Julian Tavarez's infamous Jennifer Lopez quote from last spring.)
Stephen Strasburg was a last-minute scratch from his scheduled start tonight against the Braves. Miguel Batista took his place and took the mound before a stunned, sellout crowd of 40,043 at Nationals Park that booed when the veteran reliever was announced as the starter.
Strasburg did warm up in the right field bullpen prior to the game. At some point (approximately 6:50 p.m.) he departed with a trainer and Batista took over.
The Nationals made no immediate announcement about why Strasburg was scratched.
Obviously, more to come as we find out...
UPDATE AT 7:26 P.M. -- Mike Rizzo says Strasburg was scratched because he was having trouble getting loose in the bullpen prior to this start. Rizzo said he made the decision himself and said it was precautionary. Strasburg will be examined by team doctors and will receive an X-ray and MRI. At this point, he's day-to-day and the club isn't making any declarations about when his next start will take place.
More quotes from Rizzo coming up...
UPDATE AT 7:35 P.M. -- Here is the complete transcript of Mike Rizzo's media session in the press box right after tonight's game started...
Q: Why was Strasburg scratched?
Rizzo: Stephen was having trouble getting loose in the bullpen, so I pulled the plug on it. Precautionary move. Again, erring on the side of caution. I just didn't want him going out there when he was struggling to get loose in the bullpen pregame.
Q: Had he felt anything similar earlier this week?
A: No, he had no symptoms during the week. He had a clean bullpen, he had his side and then the bullpen and played catch yesterday and was fine.
Q: What part of his arm? His elbow? His shoulder?
A: He was having trouble getting loose. There's no pain. There's no shooting pains or anything like that in the shoulder or the elbow. He was just struggling to get loose.
Q: But we're talking about the arm?
A: The arm, yes.
Q: How close to gametime was it?
A: It was as he was warming up pregame.
Q: What's the next step?
A: We're checking him out, obviously. He's being seen by our doctor and the appropriate tests will be taken.
Q: Will he have an MRI?
A: I would imagine an MRI. An X-ray, an MRI, that type of thing.
Q: How did word come to you?
A: I was up in the office and got the word from the pitching coach through the trainer to me.
Q: What's your level of concern?
A: It's a precautionary move. We're going to see what our next step is. He's day-to-day and we'll see how he responds tomorrow.
Q: He understood why you made the decision?
A: He did understand. As a competitor ... those are decisions I get paid to make. Like I said, we're going to err on the side of caution. I'll make the decisions and take the heat for it.
Q: Did he try to lobby for pitching tonight?
A: He's a very competitive person, and the decision was made by me.
Q: Given how cautious you've been with him overall, does that dictate how cautious you'll be moving forward with his next start?
A: Certainly. We're going to use common sense and be cautious like we have. This is a workload he's never seen before. We're going to take it from there.
Q: Could it be dead arm?
A: I'm not going to speculate.