9/20/2013 1:05 A.M. ET
Strasburg right on track for Saturday's start
Nationals righty reports positive results from Thursday's throwing session
By Tom Schad / MLB.com
WASHINGTON -- After his scheduled start on Thursday was postponed to Saturday because of right forearm tightness, Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg threw on flat ground on Thursday afternoon. Pitching coach Steve McCatty said that Strasburg felt good.
Strasburg initially felt the tightness in his forearm last week in New York and was scratched from a start last Friday. Team doctor Wiemi Douoguih and the Nationals' medical staff cleared Strasburg to start Thursday's series opener with the Marlins, but the right-hander felt the tightness return while playing catch on Wednesday.
"He wanted to pitch [Thursday night]," manager Davey Johnson said. "It was my judgment. I said there's no need. I don't want a guy that has a little discomfort in his arm the day before he pitches. All these games are important, but his well-being is more important than him starting today."
Doctors have told Johnson and general manager Mike Rizzo that Strasburg's injury is not serious. The tightness is not related to the surgically-repaired ligament in Strasburg's right elbow.
"The doctors tell me not to be too concerned," Rizzo said, "so I'm not going to be concerned until I'm told different."
Span's streak ends one shy of Nats' mark
WASHINGTON -- After Denard Span's 29-game hit streak came to an end Thursday night, he returned to the clubhouse, where the entire team was waiting for him.
The Nationals gave Span high-fives, hugs and a round of applause after his 0-for-4 performance in the Nationals' 3-2 win over the Marlins ended the longest hit streak in the Major Leagues this season. Span was one hit shy of the Nationals' record held by Ryan Zimmerman, who hit in 30 straight games in 2009.
"I'll be honest, I was definitely upset," Span said. "I haven't not gotten a hit in 29 days, so that felt weird, walking back to the dugout without getting a hit. I felt sad, like I let myself down, let the fans down, they've been rooting for me.
"Once the game was over, I was able to take a deep breath and say, 'You know what? Now I can move on.' We got a win and now let's see if we can finish these last few games strong."
Span flied out to left field in his first at-bat in the first inning, then grounded out to first base in the second against Marlins starter Henderson Alvarez. The center fielder nearly reached base in the fifth inning on a grounder to shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, but he was thrown out by a step.
Span received a standing ovation from the announced crowd of 25,945 after he struck out swinging in the seventh inning.
"I've gotten a lot of scrutiny this year, with how I started," Span said. "And for me to do what I've done, and give the fans an opportunity to see what I bring to the table, it's just been good for them to see that I am a good player, and [general manager] Mike Rizzo and the Washington Nationals brought me here for a reason. It's just an unbelievable feeling, I'll be honest."
Span batted .388 with five doubles, two triples, two homers and nine RBIs during the streak. Over that time, the Nationals went 21-8 and he raised his batting average from .258 to .282.
"I don't know what my longest hit streak is in my career, but if it's double-digits, it's 10," Jayson Werth said. "At 29, I have no idea, I can't even fathom what was going through his head. That's tough. It was heartbreaking when he broke it, but I'm definitely happy for him. Man, he's been a catalyst for this offense down the stretch here. He's been a big reason for our success."
Span's streak was the longest of his career and two better than Michael Cuddyer's, which was the second-longest in the Majors this season and lasted 27 games. Span also made it more than halfway to Joe DiMaggio's Major League record 56-game hit streak.
"Yeah, I was halfway," Span said, jokingly. "I got to 28, and I thought I was doing something."
Bench coach Knorr is ejected after plunking
WASHINGTON -- Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr was ejected in the bottom of the first inning of Thursday night's 3-2 win over the Marlins for yelling at home-plate umpire Bill Welke after both benches received warnings when Ian Desmond was hit with a pitch.
After Bryce Harper hit a three-run homer, Marlins starter Henderson Alvarez threw three straight balls to Desmond before hitting him in the arm. Desmond flipped his bat and calmly ran to first base, and Welke issued warnings to both teams. Knorr yelled and pointed at Welke, who then tossed Knorr.
"He obviously intentionally hit him, and to me, that's an ejection," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "It's real obvious when you give up a home run and then you get 3-0 on a guy and then you drill him. To me, you're throwing at somebody on purpose. And I think the proper thing is to eject him. When you go on a warning, an errant pitch from one of our guys and I'm gone and the pitcher's gone. I just didn't agree with the warning, and neither did Randy."
After the inning was over, Johnson met Welke on the field to plead his case. Johnson argued that issuing warnings to both teams might lead to an automatic and unwarranted ejection of one of his pitchers if they accidentally hit a batter while pitching inside.
"I know they have instructions from MLB, anything that happens, [it's a] warning," Johnson said. "But it's not to prevent us from hitting anybody, not that we would. We're trying to win a ballgame. But when somebody intentionally drills somebody, he should go. It's that simple."
Desmond said after the game that he didn't think that Alvarez threw at him on purpose.
"No. If it was, so what? If it wasn't, so what?" Desmond said. "I'll take my base. It helps my on-base percentage."
Rizzo won't change plan despite strong finish
WASHINGTON -- Entering Thursday's series opener with the Marlins, the Nationals had won 21 of 28 games in their push for the postseason, but general manager Mike Rizzo doesn't believe that will change how he evaluates the club going into the offseason.
"We'll go through the same process," Rizzo said on Thursday. "We'll evaluate each individual roster spot in the context of what they bring to the team and what they'll bring to the team in the future, and make the decisions from there."
While the evaluation process will not change, Rizzo did admit that the performances of Tanner Roark, Taylor Jordan and other young pitchers give him more trade chips in a potential package deal.
"The guys are closer now," Rizzo saidd. "We see what we referred to last year as the 'next wave,' well that wave is about Major League ready in '14, whereas last year we had a little bit of a gap because of the Gio [Gonzalez] trade.
"We certainly now again have the depth to go out and acquire a player via the trade market."
Nats acquire lefty to complete DeJesus deal
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals on Thursday acquired left-hander Matthew Spann as the player to be named from the Rays, completing the Aug. 23 deal that sent David DeJesus to Tampa Bay.
Spann, 22, spent the past two seasons primarily as a starter before shifting to the bullpen this year. He went 4-3 with a 2.87 ERA in 19 appearances (four starts) for Class A Bowling Green, including a 2.50 ERA in his 15 relief outings.
"We got some good scouting reports on him," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. "I've never seen him personally, but we've got some good reports on him."
A 25th-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, Spann is listed at 6-foot-7, 185 pounds. Rizzo did not know if the left-hander has recently put on any additional weight.
In four professional seasons, Spann is 14-10 with a 3.03 ERA over 59 games.
• The Nationals will recognize manager Davey Johnson during a ceremony before Saturday's game against the Marlins. It will include a video montage highlighting his career accomplishments.
"If it's anything more than five minutes, my back may go out," Johnson said jokingly. "We've got a ballgame to win."
• A few days after Johnson mentioned that Ian Desmond has been dealing with a hamstring injury, the shortstop was again in the starting lineup on Thursday.
"He hasn't come in and said, 'I need a day off.' And I'm certainly not going to ask him," Johnson said. "I love to watch him play."
In the event that Desmond does miss a game, Johnson said that he would likely start recent callup Zach Walters at shortstop.
Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.