CHICAGO -- Stephen Strasburg threw an extended bullpen session on Saturday afternoon, clearing his latest hurdle as he works his way back from the disabled list. As Strasburg walked off the field, he told manager Dave Martinez he felt really good during his 64-pitch bullpen session, his biggest test since landing on the DL with a pinched nerve in his neck.
The next step for Strasburg is a simulated game on Wednesday and then perhaps a Minor League rehab assignment before he rejoins Washington's rotation. The Nats would like to have Strasburg back before the start of a three-game set with the Phillies -- one of the teams they are chasing in the standings -- from Aug 21-23, so there is a chance if all goes well that he would not require a rehab start.
Still, the Nationals are going to remain cautious with Strasburg and want to make sure there are no issues when he is activated.
"We're at a critical moment right now," Martinez said. "When we get him back, we need him back. We can't have any setbacks. So we want to make sure when he does get back, he can pitch every five days."
Strasburg has made 14 starts this season with a 3.90 ERA, but has been on the DL since July 25, retroactive to July 22. That came after he missed a month with inflammation in his right shoulder. In his place, left-hander Tommy Milone has slotted into the Nats' rotation, but after a solid initial two starts, he got shelled for seven runs on 10 hits in his last outing on Wednesday.
Rendon scratched from lineup
Anthony Rendon was a late scratch from the Nationals' lineup on Saturday with a left wrist contusion after he was hit by a pitch in the first inning on Friday.
X-Rays were negative for Rendon, who remained in the game for the duration of Friday's 3-2 loss to the Cubs. After the game, he walked out of the clubhouse with the team's head athletic trainer, Paul Lessard, for further testing. Martinez initially said Rendon was fine on Friday afternoon, and he was in the initial lineup Saturday.
Mark Reynolds started at third base in his place on Saturday.
• Kelvin Herrera played catch on Saturday afternoon for the first time since he landed on the DL with a inflammation in his rotator cuff on Wednesday.