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Strasburg could return Saturday from rehab

MLB.com

WOODBRIDGE, Va. -- Stephen Strasburg felt he was ready to return to the Nationals' rotation before his rehab assignment with Class-A Advanced Potomac on Monday night, but the righty assured his right elbow impingement is feeling better and he'll return soon after a solid outing.

Strasburg allowed one run over five innings with one walk and five strikeouts on 64 pitches vs. the Salem Red Sox, following pitching coach Mike Maddux's plan of throwing five innings or 75 pitches. But more important, Strasburg's velocity on all his pitches was normal, hurling his fastball around 95-97 mph.

WOODBRIDGE, Va. -- Stephen Strasburg felt he was ready to return to the Nationals' rotation before his rehab assignment with Class-A Advanced Potomac on Monday night, but the righty assured his right elbow impingement is feeling better and he'll return soon after a solid outing.

Strasburg allowed one run over five innings with one walk and five strikeouts on 64 pitches vs. the Salem Red Sox, following pitching coach Mike Maddux's plan of throwing five innings or 75 pitches. But more important, Strasburg's velocity on all his pitches was normal, hurling his fastball around 95-97 mph.

"Felt good," Strasburg said. "No issues. Felt strong throughout."

If the Nationals allow it, Strasburg could return Saturday vs. the Padres on full rest.

Nationals manager Dusty Baker has been conservative with Strasburg since the pitcher went to the 10-day DL on July 27. The 29-year-old was initially supposed to miss one start.

But Washington has a 13 1/2-game lead over the Marlins in the National League East. Plus, Strasburg has pitched in just one playoff game due to injuries while Washington has been to the postseason three of the past six seasons. Strasburg doesn't expect this wound to linger into October.

The 6-foot-4, 235-pound right-hander last appeared in a Major League contest July 23, when he exited after two innings vs. the Diamondbacks.

A.J. Cole has replaced Strasburg, surrendering a combined 12 runs over 16 innings this month. When Strasburg comes back, four of the Nationals' five starters from the beginning of the season will be healthy. Edwin Jackson has replaced Joe Ross (Tommy John surgery) as the No. 5 starter for a rotation that entered Monday with the third-best ERA in baseball.

Strasburg, 10-3 this season with a 3.25 ERA, didn't throw a bullpen session until Aug. 4 and tossed another one two days later before partaking in a simulation game at Nationals Park on Wednesday, when he threw 57 pitches over four innings.

More fans than usual packed Potomac's stands for Strasburg's outing, but he seemed unfazed by the fanfare as usual. When Strasburg exited in the fifth, he received a standing ovation.

Soon, Strasburg hopes to draw those cheers in a Major League ballpark, which could come as soon as Saturday in his hometown of San Diego.

Kyle Melnick is a Nationals associate reporter for MLB.com.

Washington Nationals, Stephen Strasburg