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Nats' Ross dealing with tender triceps

MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Dusty Baker said Joe Ross is dealing with triceps tenderness, after the right-hander was pulled early in the club's 10-5 win over the Braves on Sunday at Nationals Park. Ross' fastball velocity dipped into the high-80s before he was removed one at-bat into the fourth inning. Ross didn't speak after the game because he was undergoing an MRI.

Baker said Ross first experienced the pain during the contest.

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WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Dusty Baker said Joe Ross is dealing with triceps tenderness, after the right-hander was pulled early in the club's 10-5 win over the Braves on Sunday at Nationals Park. Ross' fastball velocity dipped into the high-80s before he was removed one at-bat into the fourth inning. Ross didn't speak after the game because he was undergoing an MRI.

Baker said Ross first experienced the pain during the contest.

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If Ross is out for an extended time, the Nationals could use a four-man rotation. However, that would risk overworking the starters to avoid using the team's struggling bullpen. Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez, for example, have thrown the most pitches per outing of all pitchers in the National League.

The Nationals started reliever Jacob Turner when Ross played in the Minor Leagues earlier this season. The right-hander notched a 4.76 ERA in two starts and has a 5.08 overall ERA. He was sent down to Triple-A Syracuse last week, but could be recalled if the Nats need help.

Ross had an uncharacteristic performance coming off three quality starts. Over his 3 1/3 innings on Sunday, his fastest pitch was tracked at 90.6 mph, and he threw his changeup only about 3 mph slower than his go-to sinker. Ross' fastball averaged about 92 mph entering Sunday.

The 24-year-old walked two batters in the third inning before surrendering a home run to Freddie Freeman.

After Ross forced Nick Markakis into a lineout in the fourth inning, pitching coach Mike Maddux, trainer Paul Lessard and Baker visited the mound before bringing in reliever Matt Grace.

"Well, we saw [Ross'] velocity was like 89, 88 [mph], and then Mike saw something and we decided to take Joe out -- especially when he walked those two guys in front of Freddie," Baker said. "Those balls weren't even close. Usually, that's not Joe."

Ross struggled with his velocity at the start of the season, and he spent three weeks in the Minor Leagues in May to improve his arm slot. Ross was shaky when he returned, but seemed to be hitting his stride as he allowed a combined five runs over 20 2/3 innings in his previous three starts entering Sunday.

Ross also missed almost three months with right shoulder inflammation last season before returning in late September.

This was the second straight game in which the Nationals' starter didn't pitch past the fourth inning. Stephen Strasburg allowed six runs over three innings on Saturday.

Kyle Melnick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington.

Washington Nationals, Joe Ross