Stephen Strasburg could make his first minor league rehabilitation start in Class A Hagerstown on Sunday, if his throwing session on Thursday goes well, Nationals Manager Davey Johnson said.
Strasburg, who has been recovering from Tommy John surgery in September, threw nearly 50 pitches in three innings of what appears to be his last simulated game on Tuesday in Viera, Fla. And after taking Wednesday off, Strasburg will throw on the side on Thursday and then the Nationals will evaluate him. Hagerstown will be at home this weekend for a four-game series against Greensboro.
Strasburg would likely pitch one or two innings in his first start and see a handful of minor league starts, Johnson said, possibly through the end of the month depending on how well he progresses. And if all goes well, Johnson said Strasburg could be back with in the major leagues in early September, about a year after his surgery.
Ideally, Strasburg would fit in the rotation in Jordan Zimmermann’s spot, Johnson said. Zimmermann, who appeared in the major leagues in late August after Tommy John surgery the year before, is on a prescribed innings limit this season.
“I’ve kind of just put [Zimmermann] and [Strasburg] kind of in the same boat,” Johnson said. “Swap them out. When he’s down, he’ll start.”
Catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who has been on the disabled list since early July with a strained oblique muscle, could make a minor league appearance as well, Johnson said. Catching and throwing haven’t been an issue for Rodriguez but hitting has, including when he took batting practice on Tuesday in Florida, Johnson said.
Rodriguez may come back to Washington on Friday and possibly get some minor league rehab games this weekend, maybe in Hagerstown or whichever affiliate is at home, Johnson said. There’s even a possibility that Rodriguez may catch Strasburg if he does pitch on Sunday.
“I know Pudge would probably like it,” Johnson said. “But [Strasburg has] been having multiple receivers when he’s been going through the rehab down in Viera.”