Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Strasburg on pace to return Tuesday

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg walks alongside Steve McCatty after his bullpen session today.
Updated at 8:20 p.m.

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.


Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me said...

Pitch to me, Jesus, pitch to me.

Doc said...

While the Nats were negotiating to sign SS last year, there was some discussion on other sports sites about SS's mechanics leading to his current down time.

Don Copper, pitching coach of the ChiSox, is the latest to chime in. I guess I'd like to hear from the Nats staff on the same issue(s)--afterall they should know SS and his mechanics best.

Anonymous said...

@Doc, compare the video of Yunieski Maya with any of Stras pitching. Maya has very advanced and well honed pitching mechanics. That should help you a bit. Would Stras improve if he worked on his mechanics? Slightly yes, but he would also gain longevity which might be more important?

See Orlando Hernandez, Livan Hernadez for some evidence that might be a logical conclusion?

Doc said...

@Anonymous, thanks, I kinda thought that there would be some frank perceptions out there on our favorite blog site. Anything that will help this great talent preserve his career should be inserted into his routine.

SS is smart enough, and apparently so well conditioned it would seem that an improvement in his mechanics is a no-brainer. Hopefully, McCatty & Co. feel the same way. I'm going to watch Maya and see what he does.

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