Jun 23, 2015, 3:36 PM EDT
[Updated: 5:35 p.m.]
The Nationals activated right-hander Stephen Strasburg off the disabled list on Tuesday with plans for him to start later in the day in their series opener against the Atlanta Braves.
Rookie starter Joe Ross was sent down to Triple-A Syracuse as the corresponding move.
Strasburg rejoins the Nats’ rotation after nearly a month on the shelf with a strained left trapezius muscle. He was removed from his last start on May 29 against the Cincinnati Reds with what was first described as neck tightness.
Strasburg made just one rehab assignment start during his recovery, on June 17 with the Double-A Harrisburg Senators. He allowed one earned run on four hits through five innings and threw 71 total pitches. Strasburg then threw a bullpen session at Nationals Park on Saturday before getting cleared to return.
Strasburg has dealt with a litany of minor injuries this season that have altered his throwing mechanics. It all started during spring training when he sprained his left ankle. That caused him to adjust his throwing motion, which tightened up his back. He saw a chiropractor and then returned to the Nats’ rotation, only to then feel tightness in his neck.
Strasburg holds a 6.55 ERA through 10 starts this season with a .325 opponent’s batting average.
Ross leaves the Nationals after making three starts to begin his MLB career. He went 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA and was particularly impressive in his most recent outing with 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday.
Manager Matt Williams said Ross really impressed the Nationals in the few weeks he was up in Washington.
“The way he went about his business was like a professional. He made his starts and he worked hard in between them to be prepared, and he pitched really well for us. So all of those things make us open our eyes and say, ‘Oh, this very young gentleman has got a real bright future in this game.’ He did really well,” he said.
The Nationals will continue to develop Ross as a starter, even though that plan leaves no place for the right-hander in the majors with the rest of their rotation at full health.
“For him, it’s better for him to be a starter. He hasn’t relieved. If you have spring training to work on it, it’s one thing, but in the middle of the season, it’s not fair to Joe to say ‘OK, now you’re a reliever and we’re going to call down and you need to get ready in 10 pitches.’ It’s just not fair. So he’ll continue his progress,” Williams said.
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