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Washington Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross throw sim games in D.C.

Washington’s Nationals might get Stephen Strasburg out on a rehab assignment a little sooner than expected, and they may potentially be able to have Joe Ross throw some innings at some point this season.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Washington Nationals’ pitchers Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) and Joe Ross (recovering from Tommy John surgery) both took part in a simulated game this afternoon in Nationals Park, throwing to hitters before the second game of four with the Miami Marlins in the nation’s capital. Reports on both were good.

Strasburg, who landed on the Disabled List on June 9th, looked good enough that Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said he could be headed out on a rehab assignment in the near future.

“Stephen looks really good,” Martinez told reporters in his pregame press conference. “We’ll see how feels, but he might be ready to go out on a rehab assignment possibly Tuesday.

“If it works right, he’ll go out Tuesday and we’ll see how he feels then and maybe one more, so ... but very encouraging, he looked real good.”

Martinez was impressed with Ross as well, in the 25-year-old’s first live action against hitters since he underwent Tommy John surgery on July 15, 2017.

“I was tickled to see him throw as well as he threw, really,” Martinez said. “He’s got that Ross Family Slider, that’s what I call it, that was really good. That’s very encouraging as well.”

Though Ross has been rehabbing since before Martinez signed on as the manager in D.C., Martinez said he’s familiar with the sinker-balling righty from the times he’s seen him pitch from the opposing dugout.

“I’ve seen him, he faced us,” Martinez explained, “and he was nasty, and I remember hitters coming back and saying he’s throw a bowling ball up there with his two-seamer, and his slider, they called it ‘invisible,’ so just glad to see him pitching again, and off the mound, and doing so well and he’s very excited about coming back and helping us win ballgames.”

Ross was happy to take the next step in his recovery as well.

“It’s a pretty big step,” he said. “I’m excited just to face batters again. It’s a big difference between that and a bullpen. Kind of gets the extra competitiveness going. I’m excited to face these guys especially and see some hitters, so I’m excited to kind of get back.”

Ross admitted he might have been a little too excited, and didn’t take it as easy as he might have planned to once he got on the mound.

“I felt like I did not taper back,” he joked. “Just rushing a little bit with my mechanics, but other than that I felt pretty good.

“Ball was coming out well, offspeed felt pretty good for my second time facing batters, so can’t really complain.”

Ross threw just 25 pitches, but it’s all part of the progression, and he’s got a goal in mind as he moves forward.

“Just to pitch in general,” he said. “I would obviously like to start, but we have a pretty good staff, and wherever I can fit in especially in September and hopefully with expanded rosters, as long as I can hopefully get out and throw some innings I’ll be happy. That’s really what I’m working towards.”

Martinez said from what he saw in what was, again, Ross’s first outing against live hitters, he thinks it’s entirely possible the right-hander could contribute at some point this season.

“What I saw today, he looked really good,” the manager said.

“Who knows what will happen down the road, but if he continues to progress like he is, if we need somebody and he’s ready, I can see him pitching here, yeah, absolutely.”