Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Updates on Strasburg, Ankiel, Wang, Perez

NEW YORK -- A bunch of injury updates to pass along before tonight's game against the Mets (still scheduled to begin on-time at 7:10 p.m.)...

Stephen Strasburg was in Washington yesterday for a scheduled check-up with Nationals orthopedist Wiemi Douoguih and will begin throwing off a bullpen mound "any day now," according to general manager Mike Rizzo.

Strasburg, who had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow Sept. 3, has been throwing on flat ground at the Nationals' spring training complex in Viera, Fla., for the last six weeks. Once he begins throwing off a mound, he'll progress to the point he's pitching live batting practice, then during games at extended spring training.

When the Nationals believe Strasburg is ready to face minor-league competition, he'll begin a rehab assignment, which lasts a maximum of 30 days. If, after that, there's still time left in the season and the club believes the right-hander is ready, he could pitch in the majors in September. ...

Rick Ankiel has gone to Viera to work out at extended spring training in anticipation of his return from the sprained right wrist. The outfielder will stay there for a couple of days, then head to a minor-league affiliate to appear in a few rehab games before coming off the 15-day DL.

Several players could be impacted by Ankiel's return, most notably Roger Bernadina, who has taken over in center field and excelled out of the leadoff spot. Manager Jim Riggleman suggested the Nationals plan to keep Bernadina on the 25-man roster, perhaps moving him to left field, though he's not ready to commit to that yet.

"These things work themselves out," Riggleman said. "We're just going to react to how Roger plays, how he continues to play. We know we need Roger in that leadoff spot, where he doesn't have to play center field, but we do need him to be in that leadoff spot. To this point, that appears to be the best way we can go. But his continued play will help determine that, and we'll just make the necessary decisions."

Rizzo stressed that Bernadina is likely to stay in the big leagues only if he's starting on a daily basis, not even in a platoon situation.

"As I said from spring training, we view Roger Bernadina as an everyday major-league player," Rizzo said. "For him to stay here, the manager is going to have to feel that he's going to play every day in the big leagues." ...

Plenty of readers have been asking for an update on Chien-Ming Wang. Well, here you go: He is pitching in extended spring training games, with no shoulder pain or fatigue, according to Rizzo.

Wang, who has not appeared in an actual minor-league game since signing with the Nationals in Feb. 2010 following surgery to repair a torn capsule in his right shoulder, has thrown as many as 65 pitches per appearance. No timetable yet for him to go on a rehab assignment -- again, he'd only be allowed to do that for 30 days -- but Rizzo said: "He's getting closer each and every time he goes out to the mound." ...

Ryan Zimmerman did not make this road trip with the Nationals, and the injured third baseman will head to Viera soon to work out at extended spring training. He remains on track to return from his abdominal surgery in mid-June. ...

Oliver Perez was scheduled to make his debut for Class AA Harrisburg tonight, but the Senators' game against New Britain was rained out. Perez is slated to start the opener of a doubleheader tomorrow. Rizzo said the left-hander's velocity has increased since he signed a minor-league deal in March, up from the low 80s to the mid-to-high 80s.

What do the Nationals hope to see out of Perez at Harrisburg? "We just want to see where he's at in his, I guess, his rehabilitation," Rizzo said. "We want to see where his arm slot is, where his velocity is, where his stuff is and that's what we've been working on down at spring training. He's had flashes of having some good major-league stuff, and then he'll relapse into having just OK stuff. We want to see consistency of his delivery, holding his delivery together, consistency of his command and the consistency of his velocity and his stuff with his other pitches."

5 comments:

P. Cole said...

Why does Ankiel have to to play CF when he returns? Or even start? I'd keep Bernie in CF and put Ankiel in left or use him as a 4th OF.

Thanks Mark!

masnstinks said...

Not to mention( which we actually DO mention All the time!) the roster spot which is being hogged up by Matt Stairs.

Stew Magnuson said...

Who is asking about Chien-Ming Wang? Someone out there still cares? I for one, am sick of hearing about this guy. At this point, what does the Nats expect to get out of him?

Section 222 said...

Thanks very much for this report Mark. This is definitely the kind of thing I turn to Nats Insider for.

It's time for Stairs to go. Morse, Nix, Bernadine, Ankiel -- whoever is not in the game can do late inning pinch hitting. Three are lefties, so you're not going to miss Stairs from that perspective. It's just not worth taking up a roster spot for a guy who gets one AB every few days. I think you can come up with a decent rotation of the outfielders that will use everyone enough to keep them fresh and take advantage of matchups and whoever has the hot hand. Bernadinda and Nix have definitely shown enough this year to warrant significant playing time, but Morse seems to be slowly coming out of his funk too. He should at least be in the lineup against lefties.

I'll be shocked if we ever see Wang pitch at Nats Park. Good for him that the Lerners were willing to line his bank account for a few years.

DCSportsHomer said...

I like Bernadina in the outfield. He has good speed and is doing well as a leadoff hitter. Is there really a question wether to keep him in the majors?

Overall the hitting is struggling. What is the hitting coach doing to correct that?

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