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Strasburg hopes chiropractor can fix shoulder

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Strasburg hopes chiropractor can fix shoulder

The sight of Stephen Strasburg grimacing after throwing several pitches Tuesday night, then being visited on the mound by a trainer, then being pulled after three ragged but hardly awful innings could not have been comforting to the Nationals or to fans who understandably fear the worst anytime something appears to physically be wrong with the right-hander.

Strasburg and the Nationals, though, gave the impression after Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the Marlins that this latest ailment — discomfort under his shoulder blade — can be corrected with chiropractic work and isn’t a true shoulder or elbow injury that would be fair greater cause for concern.

“I think it’s something where I just need to get an adjustment, or something like that,” Strasburg said. “The best way I can put it: You’re driving a car fast over speed bumps. The irritation kind of rattles the cage a little bit.”

Strasburg is scheduled to visit a chiropractor Wednesday, something he admitted he’s done in the past. For now, the Nationals do not appear to believe this is an injury that would require a trip to the disabled list.

“I don’t think we make that decision yet,” manager Matt Williams said. “He’s perfectly fine otherwise. He’s had issues in the past with feeling something in his low back, or something like that. I wouldn’t imagine that’s serious, but we’ll have to see what the results tell us.”

Whatever the severity of this ailment proves to be, Strasburg clearly didn’t look comfortable on the mound Tuesday night. After waiting out a 28-minute rain delay before the game could commence, he grimaced several times after throwing pitches in the first inning, then again in the top of the second.

Strasburg said later the discomfort was noticeable when he tried to throw pitches away to right-handed batters, in to left-handed batters. It wasn’t an issue when throwing to the other side of the plate. He admitted feeling this during his last start in New York, though it was worse this time.

“It just kind of caused me to alter my mechanics a little too much, and [I] lost some command from it,” he said.

That side effect — altered mechanics — is what concerned the Nationals the most. If Strasburg was trying to compensate for the shoulder blade issue, he could cause more strain on his shoulder joint or elbow, and that could lead to a significant injury.

Williams and head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz did come to the mound to check on Strasburg after he bounced a throw to first base on a routine sacrifice bunt attempt in the top of the second. He insisted them he could continue to pitch, and they acquiesced. (Strasburg wound up retiring three straight batters to end the inning.)

[MORE NATIONALS: Bullpen holds after Strasburg's early exit, but Nats fall]

Strasburg faced five more batters in the top of the third, issuing a walk and allowing a groundball single but otherwise keeping the Marlins from scoring again. But after he returned to the dugout, having thrown 64 pitches, he was told his night was over.

“His pitch count got really high, got up there, and he was more and more uncomfortable with it as he went through the last inning,” Williams said. “Then when he got back in there, we decided we’re not gonna take that chance.”

There weren’t many obvious indications of Strasburg being less than 100 percent healthy. His fastball averaged 95 mph, his changeup 88 mph, his curveball 80 mph (all perfectly in line with his typical velocity so far this season).

His command, though, wasn’t as crisp as it usually is. And his physical reactions to certain pitches suggested something wasn’t right.

“His stuff was electric,” second baseman Dan Uggla said. “He wasn’t hitting his spots — that kind of was a telltale sign — but man, he came out firing bullets. … The most important thing for us is we get him healthy, and not do any more damage than hopefully was done.”

The next step for Strasburg is unclear at this point. He’ll be examined by the chiropractor on Wednesday. At some point, the Nationals will have to decide whether he’s cleared to make his next scheduled start (Monday at Arizona).

“I think it’s probably just something that [for] one reason or another probably creeps up in there sometimes,” he said. “I’ve just got to get it fixed and hopefully get back out there for the next one.”

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2018 MLB All-Star Game: How to watch, starting lineups, full rosters

2018 MLB All-Star Game: How to watch, starting lineups, full rosters

The 2018 MLB All-Star Game is finally here.

The Midsummer Classic returns to the nation's capital today for the first time in almost 50 years. This is also the first time the Washington Nationals have hosted the All-Star Game, and the first time in over 30 years that the Nationals franchise has hosted it when they were the Montreal Expos. 

After Bryce Harper stole the show on Monday night with a thrilling victory in the Home Run Derby, it's time for Max Scherzer, Sean Doolittle and the rest of the N.L. roster to join Harper as they take on the best players from the American League.

The 2018 MLB All-Star Game gets going at 8:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday night and is broadcast on FOX.

Here's what to know about the 2018 MLB All-Star weekend.  

2018 MLB All-Star Game How to Watch 

Where: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C. 
When: 8:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, July 17th
TV channel: FOX
Live Stream: FOXsports.com
Announcers: Joe Buck (PbP), John Smoltz (Analyst), Ken Rosenthal (Reporter), Tom Verducci (Reporter)

2018 National League All-Star Roster

STARTING LINEUP
1. Javier Baez, 2B (Cubs)
2. Nolan Arenado, 3B (Rockies)
3. Paul Goldschmidt, DH (Diamondbacks)
4. Freddie Freeman, 1B (Braves)
5. Matt Kemp, LF (Dodgers)
6. Bryce Harper, CF (Nationals)
7. Nick Markakis, RF (Braves)
8. Brandon Crawford, SS (Giants)
9. Wilson Contreras, C (Cubs)
SP: Max Scherzer (Nationals)

RESERVES:
Yadier Molina, C (Cardinals); J.T. Realmuto, C (Marlins); Joey Votto, 1B (Reds); Jesus Aguilar, 1B (Brewers); Ozzie Albies, 2B (Braves); Scooter Gennett, 2B (Reds); Eugenio Suarez, 3B (Reds); Trevor Story, SS (Rockies), Charlie Blackmon, OF (Rockies), Lorenzo Cain, OF (Brewers); Christian Yelich, OF (Brewers)

STARTING PITCHERS:
Patrick Corbin, LH (Diamondbacks); Jacob deGrom, RH (Mets); Mike Foltynewicz, RH (Braves); Zack Greinke, RH (Diamondbacks); Aaron Nola, RH (Phillies); Ross Stripling, RH (Dodgers)

RELIEF PITCHERS:
Josh Hader, LH (Brewers); Brad Hand, LH (Padres); Kenley Jansen, RH (Dodgers); Jeremy Jeffress, RH (Brewers); Felipe Vazquez, LH (Pirates) 

INJURED/INACTIVE PLAYERS:
LH Sean Doolittle, LH (Nationals), Jon Lester, LH (Cubs); RH Miles Mikolas, RH Cardinals (inactive); Buster Posey, C (Giants)

2018 American League All-Star Roster

STARTING LINEUP
1. Mookie Betts, RF (Red Sox)
2. Jose Altuve, 2B (Astros)
3. Mike Trout, CF (Angels)
4. J.D. Martinez, DH (Red Sox)
5. Jose Ramirez, 3B (Indians)
6. Aaron Judge, LF (Yankees)
7. Manny Machado, SS (Orioles)
9. Salvador Perez, C (Royals)
SP: Chris Sale (Red Sox)

RESERVES:
Yan Gomes, C (Indians); Mitch Moreland, 1B (Red Sox); Jed Lowrie, 2B (Athletics); Alex Bregman, 3B (Astros), Francisco Lindor, SS (Indians); Jean Segura, SS (Mariners), Michael Brantley, OF (Indians); Shin-Soo Choo, OF (Rangers); Mitch Haniger, OF (Mariners); George Springer, OF (Astros); Nelson Cruz, OF (Mariners)

STARTING PITCHERS:
Trevor Bauer, RH (Indians);  Jose Berrios, RH (Twins); Gerrit Cole, RH (Astros); J.A. Happ, LH (Blue Jays); Charlie Morton, RH (Astros); Luis Severino, RH (Yankees); Blake Snell, LH (Rays)

RELIEF PITCHERS:
Edwin Diaz, RH (Mariners); Joe Jimenez, RH (Tigers); Craig Kimbrel, RH (Red Sox); Blake Treinen, RH (Athletics)

INJURED/INACTIVE PLAYERS:
Aroldis Chapman, LH (Yankees); Corey Kluber, RH (Indians); Wilson Ramos, C (Rays), Gleyber Torres, 2B (Yankees), Justin Verlander, RH (Astros)

All-Star Game History

— 89th annual MLB All-Star Game
— Series tied 43-43-2
— Last A.L. win: 2017 (2-1)
— Last N.L. win: 2012 (8-0)
— Longest ASG: 15 innings (1979 and 2008)
— First MVP: Maury Wills, SS Dodgers (1962)
— Most Recent MVP: Robinson Cano, 2B Mariners (2017)
— Most MVP awards by team: Orioles (6)

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Cal Ripken Jr. finds nothing wrong with Bryce Harper's swing

Cal Ripken Jr. finds nothing wrong with Bryce Harper's swing

Bryce Harper hasn't been the Bryce Harper we're used to seeing in 2018. 

The 2016 N.L. MVP has seen his batting average drop to a career-low .214 and ranks among NL leaders with 100 strikeouts. On Saturday after their game vs. the Mets, manager Dave Martinez had a talk with the right fielder after he failed to run out a ground ball in the fifth. 

There have been several theories thrown out there as to why the 25-year old is slumping. From simply being mentally checked out to his "unconventional" swing at the plate. But before you take that theory and run with it, baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr. sees nothing wrong with his technique. 

"We're they saying that about it when it was working?", Ripken said Monday on 106.7 The Fan's Sports Junkies, simulcasted on NBC Sports Washington. 

"'Cause its essentially the same swing. And if you look at videotape, there's some subtle difference that you see. He has a signature way he swings the bat. Sometimes your engine's running a little high inside." 

Those who are more in-tune with the fundamentals will find his swing a bit out of the norm, but Ripken would not describe it as "unconventional."

"No, I don't think it's unconventional and I think he's been consistent. It's just the way he hits. Everybody has this unique sort of signature on how they swing the bat and if you're trying to help him, you don't go change everything and say you gotta go. You just try to bring him back to his comfort and his timing and his confidence and then that'll happen. It's proved that his style of hitting works for him and so I wouldn't try to make him somebody else."

Well, that way of hitting obviously works considering he does have 23 home runs this season and just won the 2018 Home Run Derby Monday night after launching ten 450-foot home runs and nine home runs in 47 seconds.  So what will it take for him to carry that momentum into the second half of the season? Ripken senses the need for a clearer mental game during a stressful contract year. 

"It's a slump, so what are the reasons, what are the causes for that? And probably it's a little more mental than physical."

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