Stephen Strasburg, inching closer to a return from the disabled list, will take the next step Monday when he goes on a rehab assignment to start for Class A Potomac. Nationals pitching coach Mike Maddux said Strasburg is scheduled to log five innings or 75 pitches. Earlier, Strasburg said the goal is to emerge ready to pitch for the Nationals next. If he is deemed ready, Strasburg could return as early as next Saturday against the Padres in his home town of San Diego, on four days rest.
Strasburg will pitch for Potomac because the Nationals’ other minor league affiliates are off Monday. The right-hander hasn’t pitched in a game since exiting after two innings against the Diamondbacks on July 23 and was placed on the 10-day disabled list four days later with a right elbow impingement. Manager Dusty Baker initially insisted Strasburg would miss just one start, but that timeline was scrapped.
Strasburg didn’t throw a bullpen until Aug. 4 at Wrigley Field, then threw another one two days later before throwing a simulated game on Wednesday at Nationals Park. He threw 57 pitches over four simulated innings and emerged without any pain. Maddux said the all-star looked “really good.”
Strasburg will join Shawn Kelley and Michael A. Taylor on the Nationals’ list of players on rehab assignments. While Washington is hoping Strasburg’s stint is short, Kelley and Taylor’s assignments haven’t been brief.
Kelley was put on the 10-day disabled list with a trapezius strain on June 18. The right-hander began his rehab assignment on July 29 and has pitched to a 7.50 ERA in six innings across seven games for Class AAA Syracuse, though he hasn’t allowed a run in 1 2/3 innings over his last two outings.
Taylor has been on the disabled list since July 7 with an oblique strain, and began his stint with Potomac on Aug. 1 before moving to Class AA Harrisburg. The outfielder is batting .143 with a .459 OPS, 11 strikeouts, and four walks in nine games — six in center field and three as a designated hitter — across the two levels.
Baker indicated the club isn’t in a rush to activate either player. Rehab assignments for position players are limited to 20 days. Pitchers have 30 days.
“We want them back when they’re sharp,” Baker said. We don’t want them back to struggle because they lost a lot of time, especially in Shawn’s case. They tell me he’s not quite as sharp as we’d like it, and in Michael’s case his timing is not where we’d like it, either. Different guys arrive with their sharpness and timing at different points, whether it’s at-bats or innings pitched.”
Enny Romero, another reliever on the disabled list, began playing catch this week, but Baker said the club doesn’t “know the timetable” for his return. Romero was placed on the disabled list with a forearm strain on Aug. 4.
Denard Span C
Joe Panik 2B
Jarrett Parker LF
Buster Posey C
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Brandon Crawford SS
Hunter Pence RF
Ryder Jones 1B
Jeff Samardzija RHP
Brian Goodwin CF
Wilmer Difo SS
Bryce Harper RF
Ryan Zimmerman 1B
Daniel Murphy 2B
Anthony Rendon 3B
Adam Lind LF
Matt Wieters C
Edwin Jackson RHP
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