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Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Brandon Morrow delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Wednesday, June 6, 2012, in Chicago.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Photo

randon Morrow said he felt something go on the first pitch he threw to Bryce Harper in the first inning.

He tried to put it out of his mind and threw a second pitch, which was a strike. But the pain persisted.

He decided to try a third pitch and he knew right then he was in trouble.

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"It's very frustrating," Morrow said in the silence of the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse, after absorbing a 6-3 loss to the Washington Nationals on Monday night at Rogers Centre.

"And of course when you've got to come out that early for something like that. Hopefully it will just be a best-case scenario. We still don't know what that is. Like I said we'll know more tomorrow."

Morrow, who has been Toronto's consistently best pitcher this season, was lifted at that point in the game, having only faced two Washington batters.

The initial diagnosis -- a strained left oblique muscle -- is not good news according to Toronto manager John Farrell.

"We'll get a better read on his condition after further tests are done tomorrow [Tuesday]," said the former pitching coach. "But I think at this point it's safe to say it's probably substantial with what he's dealing with right now.

"Any kind of time length, there's really no read on that yet until we get further testing. But it's unfortunate given how well he's been pitching and what he means to this rotation, the staff and certainly this team."

The Blue Jays are already preparing for the worst.

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"Just how he continued to tightened up after he came out of the game," Farrell said. "He was in considerable pain."

After the game the Blue Jays optioned pitcher Chad Beck to Triple-A Las Vegas and have decided to recall Aaron Laffey and Evan Crawford, two more pitchers, from Vegas.

The team will announced another move on Tuesday to clear up a spot on the 25-man roster -- and presumably that move will involve Morrow to the disabled list.

For a team that is already reeling in the won-loss column of late, the loss of Morrow for any length of time would be a huge blow.

He came into the Washington game with a 7-3 record and a 2.90 ERA. In his 12 previous starts Morrow had held opponents to a .191 batting average.

"Unfortunately injuries are a part of this game and this is what we're dealing with right now," Farrell said.

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Morrow allowed a sharp single to Steve Lombardozzi, the Washington leadoff hitter, before he fell into trouble on the first pitch to Harper.

"I felt like a stabbing thing in my side when I threw it," Morrow said.

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