Manager Davey Johnson said this afternoon during a radio interview on 106.7 The Fan that pitcher Stephen Strasburg could be back on the mound with the Nationals perhaps in September.

Strasburg had ligament replacement surgery Sept. 3, and the speculation was he probably would miss all of this season. Johnson’s comments on the Mike Wise Show, however, indicated otherwise and were the first public comments from a Nationals official placing a timetable on Strasburg’s return.

“I hear his progress is coming along great,” Johnson said. “He’s throwing the ball real well, and he hasn’t had any setbacks to speak of, and I look for him, you know, sometime late in the year, maybe September.”

Johnson compared Strasburg’s recovery schedule to that of fellow Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann, who also had Tommy John surgery and has come back this season to become the club’s strongest starter, especially over the past month few months.

Johnson also mentioned Atlanta’s Tim Hudson, who will start tonight for the Braves against the Nationals, as another pitcher who had ligament replacement surgery and was able to come back strong.

“I think quite a number of pitchers have had Tommy John surgery over the last 10 years,” Johnson said, “and there’s a track record of how they’ve been brought back, under what circumstances, how long they were out, when they could start throwing, when they could start pitching in games and when they could make it back at full strength. . . .

“We’re optimistic about that, that he’ll come back some time this year and get a few innings in up here. . . . We’re not trying to accelerate anything. If anything, we’re being as conservative as possible. He is chomping at the bit. I know he wants to accelerate it, but we’re sitting on it pretty good.”

Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo late this afternoon confirmed Johnson’s prognosis of Strasburg, who threw 45 pitches two days ago during live batting practice. The plan is for Strasburg to continue at that pace and eventually bring him along so he can throw roughly 50 innings before being back on track as a full-time starter.

“I think it’s in play, yeah,” Rizzo said about Strasburg pitching in the big leagues this season. “If he rehab progresses on schedule, there’s a chance he could get a major league start in September.”