Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Strasburg likely Sunday in Hagerstown
Stephen Strasburg will make his first start in an organized game since undergoing Tommy John surgery Sunday in Hagerstown, provided the Nationals right-hander experiences no setbacks before then.
According to manager Davey Johnson, Strasburg will throw off a bullpen mound Thursday at the club's spring training complex in Viera, Fla. Assuming that goes well, the 23-year-old will head north and begin his minor-league rehab assignment Sunday with low-Class A Hagerstown. The Suns host the Greensboro Grasshoppers (a Marlins affiliate) at 4:05 p.m.
Strasburg will throw only one or two innings in his first rehab start, which comes 11 months after his surgery to replace the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He'll slowly ramp up his pitch count and innings count after that, with his second start likely to come Aug. 12 at either high-Class A Potomac or Class AA Harrisburg.
Pitchers may not remain on a rehab assignment more than 30 days, so Strasburg would need to either be activated off the disabled list by Sept. 6 or be shut down with a new injury. The Nationals are home Sept. 5-11 against the Dodgers and Astros, so if all goes according to plan, Strasburg's return to the majors should fall sometime during that homestand.
Strasburg, according to eyewitnesses, threw 51 pitches during a three-inning, simulated game Tuesday against members of the Nationals' Gulf Coast League team in Viera. Radar gun readings weren't provided, but he appeared to be throwing free and easy, at near-top velocity.
Thus concluded six long months of rehab in Viera for Strasburg, who reported in February having just resumed playing catch for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery Sept. 3. He gradually progressed to the point he began throwing off a mound, then adding breaking balls, then facing live hitters in a batting cage before pitching three simulated games over the last few weeks.
Strasburg's batterymate in Hagerstown could be a familiar face. Ivan Rodriguez, on the disabled list since July 7 with a strained oblique muscle, may begin his own rehab assignment this weekend and could be behind the plate for Sunday's game.
Posted by Mark Zuckerman at 12:30 PM