Stephen Strasburg dealing with strained flexor mass in elbow

Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg is dealing with a strained flexor mass in his right elbow but his UCL is intact, trainer Paul Lessard said Thursday.

Strasburg had an MRI on the elbow earlier Thursday, one day after leaving a start in the third inning.

Lessard said the injury is not necessarily season-ending but offered no timetable for Strasburg’s return.

“I’m thinking let’s take care of the swelling and get him to a pain-free range of motion, and then we’ll start a strengthening program,” Lessard said. “I’m just worried about the next four or five days right now.”

Strasburg felt a pinch in the back of his elbow Wednesday night, and was forced to make an early exit in his first start since returning from the disabled list.

“Unfortunately, it just happened on one pitch,” Lessard said. “It’s just an acute injury vs. an overuse injury.”

Strasburg previously had been out since Aug. 17 because of soreness in his right elbow. He left Wednesday’s start after 2 1/3 innings and 42 pitches, allowing a run on two hits, before NL East-leading Washington went on to defeat Atlanta 5-4 in 11 innings.

Before going on the disabled list, Strasburg allowed 19 runs over his final three starts, including nine over 1 2/3 innings in a loss to Colorado his last time out. In his first 17 starts, he was 13-0 with a 2.51 ERA.

It was Strasburg’s second stint on the disabled list this season. The right-hander missed 17 games in June with an upper back strain.

How to define “in the hunt”? That’s its own problem, so to keep things simple, I’m just including everyone within five games of a playoff spot as of Sept. 8. We’ll proceed in alphabetical order. Here are the reasons why each good team could come up short.

Tebow won the Heisman Trophy for the Florida Gators in 2007 and helped the team take two national championships. He played professionally for the Denver Broncos and New York Jets from 2010 to 2012. He spent training camps with the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles in 2013 and 2015, respectively, but never played in the regular season for those teams.

Since 2013, Tebow has been a college football analyst for ESPN. Alderson said Tebow will be excused a couple of days each week from fall instructional league to fulfill that commitment.

“Tim is committed to his role at SEC Network and ESPN this fall,” Stephanie Druley, ESPN senior vice president, event and studio production, said in a statement. “We have always been supportive of Tim’s athletic pursuits. His new schedule will allow him to continue as a college football analyst on SEC Nation this fall.”

Former major league pitchers Dallas Braden, who is now an ESPN analyst, and C.J. Nitkowski questioned how serious Tebow was about playing baseball based on the arrangement to give him excused days off each week.

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