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Stras, Zim progressing toward return to Nats

MLB.com @JamalCollier

PHILADELPHIA -- The Nationals have battled injuries to key players all season, but two of their longest-tenured players are making progress in their return from the disabled list.

Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder) played catch and threw from flat ground in the outfield on Thursday at Citizens Bank Park, and he could throw a bullpen session this weekend. And Ryan Zimmerman (back) could begin a Minor League rehab assignment as soon as Monday.

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PHILADELPHIA -- The Nationals have battled injuries to key players all season, but two of their longest-tenured players are making progress in their return from the disabled list.

Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder) played catch and threw from flat ground in the outfield on Thursday at Citizens Bank Park, and he could throw a bullpen session this weekend. And Ryan Zimmerman (back) could begin a Minor League rehab assignment as soon as Monday.

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Strasburg has resumed throwing for a little more than a week after the shoulder inflammation that forced him to the DL also caused him to be shut down from baseball activities. The team wanted to make sure the inflammation in his shoulder subsided before he began the steps toward a comeback.

Meanwhile, Zimmerman has been out of action since May 12 with back and oblique injuries. He had been fielding grounders and taking batting practice, but the Nats said he has made some significant progress lately toward a return.

"We talked a little bit about it," manager Dave Martinez said. "I want to make sure that he's doing everything full activity ... but I'm going to get together with him this weekend to see where he's at."

Both players are on track to provide a significant upgrade for the Nats at some point next month.

Daniel Murphy has been the primary first baseman of late while Zimmerman and Matt Adams (broken finger) have been sidelined. But once Zimmerman returns, the team will shift Murphy back to second base and perhaps utilize a platoon between its two first basemen once they are both healthy.

Strasburg has been replaced in the rotation by right-hander Erick Fedde, the club's top pitching prospect and ranked as its No. 3 prospect overall by MLB Pipeline. At times, Fedde has shown signs why the team carries such high aspirations for his future. But while the Nats' rotation is struggling, the team could benefit from getting one of its aces back to pair alongside Max Scherzer.

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

Washington Nationals, Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman