UPDATE, 9:55 p.m.: Davey Johnson said following Thursday’s game that Henry Rodriguez did not throw live batting practice. The right-hander has not yet been allowed to throw breaking balls. He will throw one more bullpen session, then face hitters and could pitch in a game next week, Johnson said.
ORIGINAL POST: Henry Rodriguez, who has been dealing with some tightness in his throwing arm, was scheduled to throw his first live batting practice on Thursday, according to Nationals Manager Davey Johnson, and face minor league hitters. Earlier, the right-handed reliever his latest bullpen session went fine but still felt some lingering tightness.
Asked about his timetable, Rodriguez replied: “I still need more time.”
Rodriguez threw his first bullpen session of camp on Sunday. It’s unclear when he will throw his next bullpen session. A throwing schedule posted in the clubhouse on Thursday had Rodriguez scheduled for a consecutive days on Friday and Saturday.
Johnson said the hard-throwing right-hander is on track to be ready for opening day of the regular season. With a competition for only one or two spots in the bullpen, Rodriguez’s spot isn’t assured. Full clearance to pitch in games would allow him to fully contend for that spot.
“From what I’ve seen, his flat ground has been outstanding,” Johnson said. “He’s been throwing long. I think more than anything, it’s for him to feel comfortable that soreness in his elbow that he felt last year is not there. He’s always had winter ball coming in here. With the surgery, I’m sure when he really feels comfortable, he’ll be ready. As far as I’m concerned, he’s real close.”