WASHINGTON (AP) The Washington Nationals placed closer Jonathan Papelbon on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday with a right intercostal strain and reinstated reliever Matt Belisle following a rehabilitation assignment.
Manager Dusty Baker said Papelbon injured a muscle between his ribs while the right-hander was warming up Sunday, when he pitched one inning against the Philadelphia Phillies. He allowed a go-ahead home run to former teammate Maikel Franco before Washington rallied for a 5-4 win.
''I just threw a pitch and felt something,'' Papelbon said.
Added Baker: ''He was really stretching in the dugout after the top of the ninth. We didn't think anything of it, but then when he came in the next day all crooked and he couldn't straighten out, you know something's wrong.''
Baker said before Tuesday night's game against the Chicago Cubs that he didn't have a timetable for Papelbon's return and hadn't decided how he'll handle the ninth inning in his absence.
Shawn Kelly got the final five outs in Monday night's 4-1 win over the Cubs for his first save.
''Honestly I was kind of a little down in the dumps from being injured, but that picked me up last night,'' Papelbon said of Kelley's effort.
Papelbon is 1-2 with a 3.28 ERA and 16 saves. The 35-year-old heads to the DL for the first time in his career.
''I've taken a lot of pride in never being on the disabled list,'' said Papelbon, who ranks tenth on the all-time saves list with 365, two behind Jeff Reardon. ''I think in my situation here, we've got to make the smart decision. It's early in the season, there's no reason to push anything now.''
The 36-year-old Belisle, a right-hander, rejoins Washington after missing 45 games with a right calf strain. He pitched 11 innings on a rehab assignment, with a 4.09 ERA in nine games with Single-A Potomac, Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse.