STRASBURG THROWS OFF MOUND:
Stephen Strasburg, out with a nerve impingement in his right wrist, took the next step in his recovery on Sunday, completing a bullpen session after he’d thrown on flat ground over the last week.
Strasburg, 32, got back on the mound in Nationals Park and threw, manager Davey Martinez told reporters after the club’s workouts wrapped up for the day.
“He threw a 31-pitch bullpen today. Threw the ball well. He’s scheduled to throw a regular bullpen on Wednesday. Barring we have no setbacks, so he’ll throw another bullpen on Wednesday,” Martinez explained.
Having missed his planned 2020 debut in the second game of the season on July 25th, the 2019 World Series MVP hasn’t faced live hitters in over a week, but Martinez said a decision on whether he needs to see batters before returning the rotation will be made by Strasburg and the club together.
“I think he threw the ball well today,” Martinez said.
“We’ll see how he bounces back tomorrow. We’ll have another conversation with him tomorrow and see what he wants to do.
“If he wants to we can simulate a game on Wednesday for him here where he can face a couple batters, but that will be totally his call. Right now he says he feels really good, so we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
Erick Fedde has filled in the first two times Strasburg’s spot has come around. Will he take another turn?
Who makes the final decision on when Strasburg returns to the Nationals’ rotation? Is it the pitcher himself, or the club’s staff (coaches/trainers/etc.)?
“It’s both,” Martinez said. “A lot of times I like to communicate obviously with the player.
“But I also communicate a lot with the training staff. We want to make sure that everything is in sync and that nothing goes awry with the mechanics.
“Today he looked good. [Pitching Coach] Paul [Menhart] was out there. Training staff was out there, and we watched him, and he threw the ball really well.
“Everything was as normal. He didn’t make any adjustments to compensate for his wrist, so he looked good, and he let it go today, which was nice. So like I said, we’ll see how he feels tomorrow, and we’ll get him back out there on Wednesday and go from there.”
Howie Kendrick was scratched from last Wednesday’s game with the Blue Jays in Nationals Park with upper back tightness, but Martinez said on Sunday that the 37-year-old infielder’s fine now, and ready to return to the lineup after going 2 for 16 with a double and two walks in his first five games this season.
“He’s good. He felt good. He’ll definitely be back in there this week,” Martinez said.
WILL HARRIS’S SPOT BE FILLED SOON?:
Veteran reliever Will Harris was placed on the 10-Day Injured List (retroactive to 7/29) with a strained right groin on the 31st of July, but the Nationals didn’t announce a corresponding roster move at the time.
His manager said on Sunday afternoon that they’d wait until it’s time to play another game tomorrow before they’ll make an announcement.
How about filling the role Harris was expected to pitch in at the back end of the bullpen. He should be back later this week, but there are a few games to play while they wait, so who’s it going to be? How does the manager see the bullpen set-up right now?
“Right now, it’s going to all be based on matchups, but like I said, [Tanner] Rainey has been throwing the ball well, Javy [Guerra] is throwing the ball well,” Martinez said.
“[Sam] Freeman has been throwing the ball well, trying to match him up with a lot of lefties. This three-batter minimum thing is something that we really are looking at, especially matchups late in games, so at any given time, you’ll see anybody if we think they’ll match up well, pitch the seventh, eighth. The ninth inning right now, [Daniel Hudson] is the guy. He’s done well, he’s done it before, I like him in the ninth inning.”
THAMES’ BACK/SOTO’S BACK:
Davey Martinez announced earlier in the Nationals’ four-day weekend that first baseman Eric Thames was dealing with a back thing. He’s still dealing with that thing, and Martinez gave a little more detail on what the issue is on Sunday.
“Thames is still dealing with a little back stiffness,” the manager said.
“He said he felt better today, so he’s going to be day-to-day, I don’t anticipate anything happening with him, he’s getting better, so hopefully he’ll be ready to play on Tuesday.”
Juan Soto, who was finally cleared to return to the team a week-plus after a (false? he thinks) positive test for COVID-19, got his first work in with the team on Saturday afternoon in D.C., and did some more on Sunday, and, most important, felt good afterwards.
“Juan said he felt good, he took a bunch of at bats today, we’ll see what happens tomorrow. Tomorrow we’re not really doing much of anything, they’re just coming in on their own, getting treatments, I know he wants to run the bases a little bit. So he’ll get out there and run the bases, maybe take some batting practice, but I want him hopefully to be ready for this week.”