Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg still dealing with neck discomfort

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

BALTIMORE — Stephen Strasburg felt some discomfort in his neck after a recent bullpen session, and Washington manager Dave Martinez says the Nationals are trying to figure out what to do next.

“We backed him down again,” Martinez said. “I know they’re going to look at some different options, probably see if we can find another specialist for him to go see – but as of right now, this continues to happen to him.”

Strasburg has made only five starts this season because of neck and shoulder issues. The right-hander, who turned 33 on Tuesday, hasn’t pitched since June 1.

“When we get Strasburg back, I want him back fully healthy, so we’re going to weigh all options here,” Martinez said. “He goes out and throws long toss and stuff, and he feels OK. When he throws a bullpen, it irritates him some, so we need to figure that out.”

The Nationals entered Friday night’s game at Baltimore with a 45-50 record, six games out of first place. They’re in danger of missing the postseason for a second straight year after winning the World Series in 2019.

Strasburg was the MVP of that World Series, but he has pitched only seven times since.

“He’s frustrated, because he’s worked so hard,” Martinez said. “I said, `Look, we’ve got to figure out what it is, and then we’ll go from there. We’ve been here before. I know it’s been a bumpy road for you, and I know you want to come back and pitch.”‘

Astros star Altuve has surgery on broken thumb, a WBC injury

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros star Jose Altuve had surgery Wednesday on his broken right thumb, an injury that occurred in the World Baseball Classic and will significantly delay the second baseman’s 2023 debut.

The Astros announced that the 32-year-old Altuve had the procedure done in Houston and will stay there to begin his rehabilitation, with only one week left in spring training. The Astros will fly there on Sunday following their final Grapefruit League game in Florida, before playing a pair of exhibitions against their Triple-A team, the Sugar Land Space Cowboys, in Texas.

Altuve was hit by a pitch on Saturday while playing for Venezuela in the WBC. He might not be ready to return to the lineup until at least late May. The eight-time All-Star and 2017 American League MVP batted .300 with 103 runs, 28 homers and 18 steals for the World Series champion Astros last season. Mauricio Dubón and David Hensley are the leading candidates to fill in for Altuve at second base.

Altuve isn’t the only Major League Baseball star who was hurt in WBC play, of course. Mets closer Edwin Díaz will miss the 2023 season because of a torn patellar tendon in his right knee as the freak result of an on-field celebration following a WBC win by the Puerto Rico national team.


The Astros also scratched right-hander Hunter Brown from his scheduled start Wednesday against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Manager Dusty Baker told reporters that Brown, who is ranked by MLB as the organization’s top prospect and competing for the last spot in the rotation, has discomfort in his lower back.


The New York Mets sent catcher Francisco Álvarez to Triple-A Syracuse, quashing for now the possibility of putting the prized 21-year-old on the opening day roster.

Álvarez, who made his major league debut with the Mets near the end of last season, had just three hits in 28 at-bats in Grapefruit League exhibition games. Ranked by MLB as the third-best prospect in baseball, Álvarez batted .260 with 27 homers and 78 RBIs in a combined 112 minor league games in 2022 at Double-A and Triple-A.

The Mets have newcomer Omar Narváez, a 2021 All-Star with the Milwaukee Brewers, as their primary catcher with Tomás Nido likely to play mostly against left-handed pitchers.

Speaking of the Mets, Díaz turned 29 on Wednesday – a rather subdued milestone for the right-hander considering his situation. Diaz nonetheless posted in Spanish an upbeat message on his Twitter account, thanking God for another year of life and describing his health as good and his outlook as positive in this initial stage of the roughly eight-month rehabilitation process.