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Joe Ross pulled from rehab assignment with shoulder soreness lingering

Joe Ross will not make another rehab start for the Nationals soon. (Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press)

Joe Ross still has soreness in his right shoulder and will probably not return to the Nationals as soon as his recent rehab schedule suggested he would. The Nationals pulled the 23-year-old off his rehab assignment Friday but did not activate him, meaning he is still on the disabled list with no obvious next step. Ross last pitched Sunday in Syracuse, and he threw 4 2/3 innings and allowed three earned runs. He then rejoined the team in Arizona, where he was scheduled to throw a bullpen session, then make at least one more rehab start before returning. Now, he will not do that.

Nationals Manager Dusty Baker said “nothing changed” exactly for Ross after that rehab start Sunday, “just he’s still a little sore.”

We’re trying to figure out what to do because sometimes he’s still a little sore, so we have to figure out exactly what to do,” Baker said. “I hate I don’t know, but I don’t know.”

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Baker did say taking Ross off his rehab assignment allows him to start a fresh rehab clock whenever he is ready to begin again. Rules allow pitchers 30 days on rehab assignments, and Ross made his first rehab start July 24. Though he could have made a start or two more within those 30 days with time to spare, he will now have a full 30 days to work with whenever he begins again.

“Just going to take a little bit longer than we expected,” Nationals pitching coach Mike Maddux said. “The idea is to come back one time. No reason to push him into a setback.”

Because they chose to skip Ross’s (and Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito’s) turn in the rotation this week, moving Gio Gonzalez up a slot to start Friday night, the Nationals do not need a fifth starter until Aug. 16 in Colorado. Giolito or Lopez could make that start if Ross cannot. Rosters expand Sept. 1, so the Nationals will have more flexibility to carry a fill-in if Ross is not yet ready. He last pitched in the majors July 2 and was 7-4 with a 3.49 ERA in 16 starts.

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