Reliever Cole Kimball, whose rookie season last year was interrupted in early June by rotator cuff surgery, has been playing catch at the team facility in Viera since Jan. 10 and has increased his workload to throwing 100 feet.

“It feels normal,” Kimball said. “Everything is identical, and that’s what’s encouraging. A lot of guys change their delivery and change their arm action. It’s the same thing, so I’m excited.”

Kimball emerged as a promising power arm last spring and the Nationals counted on him to pitch late in games upon promoting him to the majors for the first time in May. Before his injury, Kimball, who threw a devastating split-finger fastball, made 12 appearances and struck out 11 in 14 innings.

He remains a long way from the mound and likely won’t return to game action until at least the all-star break. He said he’s improved his physical condition through workouts and physical therapy.

“It’s just a waiting game. All you can do is wait, wait, wait. Worth it, though, to make it back.”

This winter, the Nationals momentarily lost Kimball on waivers, when they removed him from the 40-man roster in order to clear space. The Toronto Blue Jays picked him up, but when they also waived him a day later, the Nationals claimed Kimball and added him back to their roster.

“It was just a business deal,” Kimball said. “No hard feelings.”

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