Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg walks alongside Steve McCatty after his bullpen session today.
PHOENIX -- Stephen Strasburg threw 25 pitches off a bullpen mound this afternoon and reported no problems with his right shoulder, a development that has team officials fairly confident the rookie will be able to return from the disabled list in one week.
"He didn't have any problems, before or after," Nationals trainer Lee Kuntz said, adding that Strasburg's inflammed shoulder "feels better."
In his first mound appearance since getting scratched moments before his July 27 start against the Braves, Strasburg threw fastballs, curveballs and changeups at full velocity, though he didn't throw as many pitches as he normally would during a between-starts bullpen session.
"He was letting it go," Kuntz said.
Next up for Strasburg will be a simulated game against teammates Thursday afternoon at Chase Field, then another bullpen session Saturday at Dodger Stadium. If all goes well, the Nationals are planning to activate him off the disabled list next Tuesday and have him start against the Marlins.
Asked if it's still a tentative plan, manager Jim Riggleman suggested the club is looking at this schedule with more certainty than that.
"It's only tentative if he doesn't respond 100 percent to the workload before that," Riggleman said. "We're anticipating everything will go fine and he'll pitch Tuesday. But if there's the slightest something to be cautious about, we'll back him off that."
Thursday's simulated game -- in which Strasburg faces teammates in a series of "innings" and takes breaks in between -- will represent as close to a test of actual game conditions as he can get without going on a minor-league rehab assignment.
Team officials will watch that session closely and look for any signs of trouble before clearing Strasburg to return from the DL.
"It's a daily evaluation thing," Kuntz said. "He hasn't stumbled or taken any steps back. He's continuing to do all the things he needs to do. We're going to evaluate him again on Thursday."
If Strasburg does return to start Tuesday against the Marlins, he'd be assuming the rotation spot currently held by Craig Stammen. The Nationals, though, could keep Stammen in the rotation by bumping him a day or two and remove someone else from the mix.