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Posted at 11:08 PM ET, 07/20/2012

Chad Tracy returns to rehab, at about 85 percent now


(Al Behrman - AP)
In the fifth inning of Friday’s Class A Potomac game, Chad Tracy’s first rehab action in over two weeks, a throw to first base pulled him off the bag. He stretched to his left and whent to the ground to stop the ball.

He hopped back up, and later said it felt fine. After recovering from surgery to repair a torn muscle in his groin area in late May, that’s the type of play he couldn’t have made recently, at least without pain.

“If anything was going to happen, that was the exact movement I would have felt it on, on your knees, going to my left and had to use my legs to squeeze the ground right there,” he said after the game. “It felt good.”

Tracy rehabbed with Potomac in early July, pushing his timetable up as soon as possible. But it may have been too quick, because on July 6 he felt some pain running out of the batter’s box. He didn’t return to play until Friday night, when he played five innings. Tracy said he was probably about 60 to 65 percent healthy in his first rehab stint; now, he is closer to 85 or 90 percent and improving.

Tracy finished Friday’s game 1 for 3 with an RBI single and two groundouts and didn’t feel any pain running to first base, though he wasn’t all that fast.

“It felt a lot better than when I was here last time,” Tracy said. “I feel like my bat is a little slow but that last at-bat, I felt like it was coming around. I’m seeing the ball a little better.”

The Nationals’ bench currently has only two left-handed hitters, outfielder Roger Bernadina and backup catcher Sandy Leon, a switch hitter. The eventual return of Tracy would provide a valuable and proven left-handed hitter of the bench that Manager Davey Johnson covets.

Tracy said he is scheduled to play two more games with Potomac before heading to Class AAA Syracuse.

“As soon as I start swinging the bat and my timing starts getting there, hitting some balls hard and squaring up, I think that would probably be the best time to pull the trigger to come back,” he said.

Outfielder Xavier Nady also started for Potomac, playing left field for five innings and finishing 1 for 3 with a single. Nady’s 20-day rehab assignment from tendinitis in his right wrist ends Friday, and the Nationals must choose whether to promote him or designate him for assignment.

Nationals top pitching prospect Alex Meyer pitched in his Potomac debut on Friday night and looked impressive. He struck out seven batters over six innings, allowing on three hits and hitting one batter. His fastball sat between 94 and 97 mph.

By  |  11:08 PM ET, 07/20/2012

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