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Posted at 06:09 PM ET, 08/24/2011

Stephen Strasburg nears Nationals return, takes batting practice


Stephen Strasburg polished off a side session today with no major issues, clearing him make his next rehab start Saturday at Class AAA Syracuse and putting him perhaps two minor league starts away from returning to the major leagues.

On Saturday, he Nationals will allow Strasburg to throw around 70 or 80 pitches, Manager Davey Johnson said. So long as Strasburg continues on his current progression without issue, he would start Sept. 1 (Class AA Harrisburg has a home game) and then, perhaps, join the Nationals for his next outing.

“I don’t think he can come here before Sept. 6,” Johnson said. “That was the date that I heard. But where he’s at, the number of pitches, the consensus is he needs a couple more outings, then bring him back here.”

Strasburg also reached a different sort of milestone after his bullpen session – he took full batting practice for the first time since he left Florida and began making minor league rehab starts, he said.

The Nationals wanted Strasburg to take swings because he’ll have to hit for Syracuse on Saturday. This afternoon, Strasburg roped several line drives to left field. Strasburg later said he felt good swinging.

“He’s under heavy restrictions, and I just lifted them,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “So let’s keep our fingers crossed. I figure if he can throw a 99-mph fastball, he can hit.”

Strasburg might have been taking frustration out as hit. While he had no physical issues during his bullpen session, “he’s a perfectionist, and he wasn’t real pleased with the way he threw,” Johnson said.

By  |  06:09 PM ET, 08/24/2011

 
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