Monday, August 2, 2010 8:45pm
By Mark Zuckerman
PHOENIX -- Stephen Strasburg took another key step in his return from the disabled list Monday evening when he threw from up to 120 feet and reported no problems with his right shoulder.
The Washington Nationals rookie, who threw Sunday for the first time since getting shut down with shoulder inflammation, played catch before Mondays game against the Arizona Diamondbacks with fellow starter John Lannan. He started at 60 feet, then gradually moved up to 120 feet, putting a good amount of effort into each long toss.
Everything was fine, pitching coach Steve McCatty said.
Strasburg, who hasnt pitched since July 21 at Cincinnati, will take another important step Tuesday when he throws all of his pitches off a bullpen mound at full velocity for the first time. If that goes well, hes due to take Wednesday off, then pitch in a simulated game against teammates Thursday at Chase Field.
Strasburg is eligible to come off the 15-day DL on Friday, but manager Jim Riggleman has indicated the earliest he will return is next week after the Nationals return home. If he treats Thursdays simulated game as though it was an actual game, Strasburg would be lined up to start five days later: August 10 against the Florida Marlins at Nationals Park.
Meanwhile, the man who could serve as Washingtons No. 2 starter behind Strasburg remains several weeks from rejoining the big-league staff.
Jordan Zimmermann, in the final stages of recovery from last summers Tommy John surgery on his elbow, was activated off the 60-day DL Sunday because his 30-day rehab period had expired. The Nationals, though, immediately optioned the right-hander to Class AAA Syracuse to continue his progression.
Zimmermann made six rehab starts at three different levels of Washingtons farm system and didnt allow an earned run in five of those. Overall, hes posted a 2.38 ERA and a 19-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
The Nationals, though, plan to continue to be cautious with the 24-year-old. Riggleman said Zimmermann is likely to make at least three more starts at Syracuse before joining the big-league staff, most likely in late-August.
We dont want to activate him here and then have to send him back down, Riggleman said. When we get him here, we want it to be for good. ... Theres no real hurry to get him here. Hes way ahead of schedule as opposed to what it could have been.
Mark Zuckerman covered the Nationals for The Washington Times from 2005-09. In addition to regular work this season for CSNwashington.com, he also covers the team at www.natsinsider.com. Email Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.