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Injury updates: Hellickson, Kintzler, Wieters

MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals plan to send right-hander Jeremy Hellickson on a Minor League rehab assignment this weekend in what will likely be the final step in his return from the disabled list with a mild right hamstring strain.

Hellickson, who has been on the DL since June 5, has thrown a pair of bullpen sessions, taken pitcher's fielding practice and completed a simulated game in the bullpen and thought he could have returned to the club's rotation as soon as Saturday. But Nationals manager Dave Martinez said the team wanted to see Hellickson make a rehab outing before he rejoined the Nats.

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WASHINGTON -- The Nationals plan to send right-hander Jeremy Hellickson on a Minor League rehab assignment this weekend in what will likely be the final step in his return from the disabled list with a mild right hamstring strain.

Hellickson, who has been on the DL since June 5, has thrown a pair of bullpen sessions, taken pitcher's fielding practice and completed a simulated game in the bullpen and thought he could have returned to the club's rotation as soon as Saturday. But Nationals manager Dave Martinez said the team wanted to see Hellickson make a rehab outing before he rejoined the Nats.

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"We're probably going to send him down and pitch," Martinez said. "Probably pitch five or six innings down in the Minor Leagues somewhere."

Hellickson had been brilliant for the Nationals in nine starts as the team's fifth starter where he posted a 2.28 ERA. In his absence, the Nats turned to right-hander Jefry Rodriguez to fill the final rotation spot and he is scheduled to make his second start of the year Sunday night against the Phillies.

Kintzler, Wieters progressing
Right-hander Brandon Kintzler (right forearm flexor strain) is also near the start of a Minor League rehab assignment after his bullpen session went well Wednesday.

"I'd like for him to go down and maybe throw an inning and see where he's at," Martinez said. "But I'll have that conversation with him and [trainer Paul Lessard]. But he says he feels pretty good."

Matt Wieters caught another bullpen session Thursday afternoon and ran on the field to test the left oblique strain that currently has him on the DL. They are both positive steps for the Nationals, but Martinez still hesitated to place a timetable on his return.

"It's all a progression right now, he's got to really feel comfortable running," Martinez said. "That's a bad injury, especially for a catcher, so we want to make sure he's comfortable running and squatting for nine innings. There's no set timetable for him, so we'll just play it by ear."

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Jeremy Hellickson