8/22/2014 11:31 P.M. ET
Strasburg armed and ready for stretch run
By Bill Ladson and Daniel Popper / MLB.com
WASHINGTON -- Two years ago this month, word started spreading that the Nationals were going to shut down Stephen Strasburg for the season. The team wanted to be cautious after Strasburg's Tommy John surgery in late 2010, and eventually shut him down Sept. 8, resulting in the right-hander missing the postseason.
At first, Strasburg was upset about being shut down, but he said Friday that the Nationals had his best interest at heart. It also helped that the club had a history of shutting down pitchers who had undergone elbow reconstruction. Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, for example, was shut down after 161 1/3 innings in 2011.
"It seems like a long time ago that happened," Strasburg said. "It was tough at the time. Just seeing how prevalent injuries are these days, I'm convinced the Nationals had my best interest at heart. It's easy for an organization to go out there and just ride the young horse until it breaks. I think that is a testament to [general manager] Mike Rizzo and the ownership here. They want to see me have a long career and hopefully a long and successful career. If that happens, they are going to be happy, too."
In 2014, Strasburg is not on any limitations and there is a good chance he will play in the postseason this year. Entering Friday's opener vs. the Giants, the Nationals had the best record in the National League and were seven games ahead of the Braves in the NL East.
Strasburg is pleased that he is healthy and there are no distractions about being shut down.
"I feel great right now. My arm has felt great all year. My body is accustomed to the workload that it takes," Strasburg said. "I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing. I'm seeing good results, especially in recovery in between starts. I try to keep it the same and don't do anything stupid in between bad outings. I'll be sitting pretty well."
Fister OK after skin-cancer removal procedure
WASHINGTON -- Nationals starter Doug Fister told the media Friday night that the stitches on the right side of his neck resulted from a skin-cancer removal procedure he underwent "a couple days ago."
Fister surrendered four earned runs over six innings in Washington's 10-3 loss to Giants -- the most runs he's allowed since June 15.
But the right-hander said after the game that the procedure and subsequent wound on his neck did not influence his performance, and he's "good" moving forward.
"It had no effect tonight," Fister said.
Morse has fond memories of time with Nats
WASHINGTON -- Giants outfielder Michael Morse returned to Nationals Park for the first time since the Nationals made him part of a three-team trade that sent him to the Mariners in January 2013.
Morse made his mark in Washington after general manager Mike Rizzo acquired him from the Mariners for outfielder Ryan Langerhans. Morse was the Nationals' MVP in 2011, when he hit .303 with 31 home runs and 95 RBIs and became popular with the fans in Washington.
Morse's best moment in a Nationals uniform, he said, was helping the Nationals win their first division title in 2012.
"Whenever you get a chance to go the postseason, it helps a player out in his career," Morse said.
Morse arrived in the visiting locker room around 3:50 p.m. ET on Friday, and he admitted it was weird to be in the opponent's locker room.
"It's weird, and I hope to check it out more often," Morse said. "It feels good to be here. I have a lot of memories. I'm going to focus on winning right now. "
After the game, Morse planned to see his former teammates such as Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth.
"I will just wing it," Morse said on what he plans to do in DC.
Nats, Tribe both happy with returns on Deadline deal
WASHINGTON -- With less than two hours to spare before the non-waiver Trade Deadline on July 31, the Nationals and Indians agreed on a deal that sent veteran infielder Asdrubal Cabrera to Washington in exchange for power-hitting prospect Zach Walters. Since the trade, both teams have come away happy with their respective returns.
Entering Friday, Cabrera had compiled a .250 average and .729 OPS in his first 17 games for the Nationals while providing sensational defense at second base, filling the hole left when Anthony Rendon was forced to third base in the absence of the injured Ryan Zimmerman.
Walters, meanwhile, has flourished during his first stint of consistent playing time in the big leagues, hitting four homers in his first nine starts for the Indians. Originally an infielder in the Minors, Walters has played three games as a left fielder and six as a designated hitter so far in Cleveland.
"He's a good kid. He works hard. We're happy for his success," Nationals manager Matt Williams said of Walters. "It was a question of having a Major League-ready veteran guy to bring over. Sometimes you have to do those things. But we're happy for him, because he's worked hard to get to the point that he's at. And they're giving him a chance to play and he's having success, and that's a really good thing."
• Neither the Nationals nor Giants took batting practice on the field Friday due to possible inclement weather. The tarp remained on the infield for most of the afternoon as a precautionary measure.
"We decided to not take a chance and get out there and hit and have [a thunderstorm] pop up and have issues with the field," Williams said.
• Williams said outfielder Nate McLouth "came out OK" after he underwent season-ending surgery on Thursday to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. McLouth was expected to return to the clubhouse at Nationals Park on Friday so team doctors could check him out.
"Everything went fine," Williams said. "It's all put back together and now he's in the healing process."
• Zimmerman (Grade 3 hamstring strain) threw for first time on Thursday since suffering his injury just less than a month ago. Williams said Zimmerman reported no issues with his hamstring on Friday. As a result, the third baseman should "ramp up" his throwing program in the coming days.
"He's on his way," Williams said. "We've got to be mindful of his shoulder, too, but he'll continue."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Daniel Popper is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.