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Strasburg might skip future All-Star games; Nats host in '18

(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

By HOWARD FENDRICH

AP Sports Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) Stephen Strasburg is not so sure he wants to be an All-Star ever again.

The Washington Nationals right-hander said Sunday he is sure a change in routine for that event last season contributed to an arm injury that landed him on the disabled list, so he might just skip future Midsummer Classics.

The Nationals are hosting the 2018 edition.

"I mean, I think I felt like, at the All-Star break, it was a tough situation. Might have to rethink about if I'm going to actually pitch or not pitch in an All-Star Game - whether I'll actually go altogether," Strasburg said at the team's annual fan festival. "That was the issue I felt like was the reason why I got hurt."

His 2017 invitation to Miami was his third career All-Star selection. He didn't appear in the game, but he still was thrown off, Strasburg said, and he left his second start following the break after only two innings.

He went on the DL for a little more than three weeks with a nerve issue in his pitching elbow.

"You're asked to throw, potentially pitch - maybe not - but not have any access or ability to really stick to your routine. Once that's over, it's like right back into it: bullpen, day off, game," Strasburg said. "I just know that little lapse, for whatever reason, it pushed me back a bit. It started making my arm hurt. My arm felt good before that, then it was, like, after that, it just didn't feel right."

He wound up going 15-4 with a 2.52 ERA in 2017, finishing third in voting for the NL Cy Young Award , an honor that went to teammate Max Scherzer.

In Washington's NL Division Series loss to the Chicago Cubs, Strasburg was 1-1 and allowed zero earned runs in 14 innings. That included his Game 4 gem, when he struck out 12 in seven innings of a 5-0 victory.

Last February, Strasburg entered spring training having come off a right arm problem at the end of 2016. Scherzer, meanwhile, was dealing with a stress fracture in a knuckle on his pitching hand.

Both are now healthy.

"I've always said that in the offseason, when you're preparing for spring training as opposed to rehabbing to get to spring training, it's a big difference," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. "Those are just two positives - that they're both healthy and preparing for spring training and getting ready for the long season."

NOTES: 3B Anthony Rendon, who could become a free agent after the next two seasons, said he would be open to staying with the Nationals for the long term. "Yeah, for sure," he said. "Why not stay with one organization?" As for whether he expects his agents, Scott Boras and Co., to negotiate with the team about a new deal this offseason, Rendon joked: "Maybe. I don't know. That's up to them. That's why I hired them. I dropped out of school." ... RHP Tanner Roark did not hide his disappointment at not getting a chance to pitch in the NLDS. "I was not happy," he said. Roark had been penciled in for Game 4 in Chicago, which got rained out. Strasburg started that game the next day, instead, and Roark never appeared in that one or in Game 5, which was started by LHP Gio Gonzalez. "It was pretty emotional for me, just going back and forth, not knowing, knowing," he said. "I was ready to go, I remember that morning, to pitch, and people were on the TV talking that I wasn't good enough or something. ... I was going to use that as motivation. But then I got to the field and it just didn't work out that way." ... New pitching coach Derek Lilliquist boiled down his philosophy this way: "There's no homers on the ground."

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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Updated December 17, 2017

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