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Strasburg's arm irritation won't cost him a start

Right-hander's arm deemed to be "structurally perfect"

Special to

ATLANTA -- Nationals fans can let out their collective breath.

Stephen Strasburg is OK.

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The day after words like "forearm tightness" and questions about the Nats' ace missing a start were bandied about, all appears calm.

"Stephen had some irritation on his forearm. He's healthy, happy and ready to pitch Saturday," said general manager Mike Rizzo prior to Tuesday night's game at Turner Field. "He was not sent for tests yesterday or today. He was seen by the team doctor here in the clubhouse and was given a clean bill of health."

Rizzo confirmed what he'd told the Washington Post on Tuesday morning, that Strasburg's arm was "structurally perfect" and that any forearm discomfort felt Monday night was unrelated to the 2010 injury which led to his having Tommy John surgery.

Strasburg took a no-decision in Monday night's 3-2 loss, throwing six innings, allowing two runs and six hits, striking out eight but matching his season high with four walks. He threw 93 pitches, 53 for strikes. While the numbers looked OK, manager Davey Johnson was concerned about Strasburg's command and the way he shook out his arm. He'd mentioned that his pitcher was seeing a doctor regarding forearm tightness.

It turns out that the problem for Strasburg, who admitted having difficulty getting comfortable, had more to do with his pregame treatment, courtesy of an electrical impulse machine, than any previous injury.

"What I gathered from the doctor, the electrical impulse machines they put him on there might have irritated the nerve in there a little bit," said Johnson. "I think it will settle down by the time he throws his [side session]. So I think Stras feels a lot better about it. So do I."

Strasburg, 1-4 with a 3.13 ERA through six starts, is scheduled to take the mound on Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh. That start should go off without a hitch.

"He's scheduled to throw a [bullpen session], he played catch today. He looked fine," said pitching coach Steve McCatty. "Stephen and I talk a lot. So we communicate on a ton of stuff. I probably talk to him more than anybody. So is there anything in particular that I'm going to look at? No. Am I still going to stress the same things that I always do? Yes."

Jon Cooper is a contributor to

Washington Nationals, Stephen Strasburg