Nats place prized rookie on 15-day disabled list

The Nationals placed rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg on the 15-day disabled list Thursday.

The 22-year-old was scratched from his scheduled start on Tuesday because of right shoulder stiffness. An MRI and X-rays showed no structural damage. But Strasburg will not be permitted to even play catch until at least Saturday, which meant he would not be ready in time for Sunday's scheduled start against the Philadelphia Phillies. Strasburg will be eligible to come off the disabled list Aug. 7. The move, which is retroactive to July 22, occurred before the Nats defeated the Atlanta Braves, 5-3, in an afternoon game at Nationals Park.

"It's feeling great already," Strasburg said. "I'm making big strides. I'm just going to keep getting better, keep getting stronger, and when the time comes I'm going to be ready to go."

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Strasburg will travel with the team on its West Coast road trip next week. Nats manager Jim Riggleman told reporters the team has no plans to end Strasburg's season. Instead, the right-hander will progress from throwing on flat ground to a full bullpen session to facing live batters. Washington hopes the first of those steps occurs on the road trip

"Any information we get that is negative, [Strasburg is] not pitching," Riggleman said. "But if everything's positive, he's going to pitch."

Strasburg is 5-2 with a 2.32 ERA. If he is not able to return by the end of his stint on the disabled list that likely will mean he is back on an innings count in 2011. The organization planned on 160 innings from Strasburg this season.

While the Nats said a temporary goodbye to one pitcher they welcomed back another as Scott Olsen pitched for the first time since May 21. With a solid 3.77 ERA in his first eight starts this season, Olsen didn't miss a beat upon his return. He pitched six innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits and two walks. That was just enough for the win. Michael Morse had an RBI ground out, Ian Desmond and Adam Dunn homered and catcher Wil Nieves produced a two-run single against Atlanta.