Ricky Carioti/WP

Left-hander Ross Detwiler will take his biggest step back to the field in more than two months Sunday when he pitches off the mound. Detwiler has not thrown from a mound since July 4, the day of his last start before a bulging disk in his back landed him on the disabled list.

Detwiler traveled with the Nationals to Miami, his first road trip since the injury. Detwiler still hopes to pitch in a game before the season ends.

“That’s definitely a goal I want to work toward,” Detwiler said. “Without that, I don’t see the reason to be throwing off the mound and getting ready and doing all that.”

Manager Davey Johnson said Detwiler would likely work as a reliever if he does get into a game this year, because Detwiler does not have the time to build his arm strength like a starter. Johnson believes Detwiler needs to prove his health so the Nationals can proceed with confidence in him this winter. Detwiler is more focused on simply pitching again.

“I don’t think it’s going to affect me next year at all,” Detwiler said. “It’s something I’ve been working toward for a couple months now.  I want to see my work kind of pay off at the end.”

Detwiler has been playing catch on flat ground for about two weeks. When he first started throwing, Detwiler felt better throwing than he had all season.

“It doesn’t feel like anything now,” Detwiler said. “There’s no pain at all. I wouldn’t move forward if there was.”

Detwiler began the year as the Nationals fifth starter. In 13 starts, Detwiler went 3-4 with a 4.04 ERA. In his first seven starts, before he landed on the disabled list for the first time with a back injury, Detwiler punched up a 2.53 ERA.