Here's some encouraging news about one of several injured Nationals pitchers, this one actually taking a significant step in his recovery: Jordan Zimmermann will make his first rehab start tomorrow night for Class A Potomac.
Zimmermann, who had Tommy John surgery last August, is slated to throw two innings against Wilmington at Pfitzner Stadium. It's the right-hander's first appearance in an actual game since he faced the Cubs on July 18, 2009, after which he was shut down with elbow pain.
The Nationals have had to hold Zimmermann back some in his rehabilitation, not wanting to push him to return sooner than the 12-month period generally reserved for pitchers coming off elbow ligament replacement surgery. He will likely spend the full allotment of 30 days on the rehab assignment. By the beginning of August, the Nats will have to decide whether he's ready to pitch in the majors or whether to option him back to the minors for some more seasoning first.
Zimmermann, 24, was a second-round draft pick in 2007 from Division III Wisconsin-Stevens Point, but he quickly became the organization's top pitching prospect. In 16 starts last season before suffering the injury, he went 3-5 with a 4.63 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 91 1/3 innings.