The Nationals were encouraged after starter Stephen Strasburg exceeded his original workload in a simulated game on Tuesday at Nationals Park.
The right-hander, who has been on the injured list because of right shoulder inflammation since April 18 (retroactive to April 15), was slated to throw three innings. Instead, he tossed 62 pitches over four frames.
“That’s great,” manager Dave Martinez said. “That only tells me that his legs are getting underneath him a little bit [and] he’s feeling a lot better.”
By reaching four innings, Martinez said there is a possibility Strasburg could target 70-75 pitches across five frames the next time he throws. The team will continue to assess Strasburg this week, and then determine whether the next step will be another sim game or a rehab assignment.
“Right now, he hasn’t complained about his shoulder,” Martinez said. “It’s just building strength and continuing to build strength, getting him back out there like in real game situations and going from there.”
Strasburg’s early-season injury halted his 2021 comeback after he was limited to just five innings last year due to carpal tunnel in his right hand. He is 0-1 with a 6.30 ERA in two starts this season.
“He wants to get back,” Martinez said. “After being on the IL, for anybody, [for] a long period of time, you get antsy. Sometimes you get a little ornery because you just want to come back, but you have to put the work in -- and he’s done that. He’s done everything he can possibly do to come back quick, and he’s in a good place.”
Suero nearing return
After throwing one inning in a Triple-A rehab assignment on Sunday, Wander Suero could be activated from the IL as soon as Wednesday or Thursday. The right-handed reliever was back with the team on Tuesday at Nationals Park, where he was scheduled to be evaluated by the medical staff.
Suero was placed on the IL on April 18 because of a left oblique strain. While the Nationals were playing at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, he fanned two and allowed one hit, two runs and one walk for Rochester against Lehigh Valley.
“A little erratic the first couple of hitters and then he settled down,” Martinez said. “I think that’s just being back out there and facing hitters again, but he threw the ball well. I had a good conversation with [Red Wings manager] Matt LeCroy, and he said he looked totally normal. He had no complaints.”
Suero is a staple in the Nationals’ bullpen, appearing in eight of their first 12 games this season. He has posted a 1.42 ERA in 6 1/3 innings.
“He knows how much I use him -- everybody knows that,” Martinez said. “It’s good to have him, especially when he’s throwing the ball well.”
Nationals in the community
Nationals Philanthropies, the club’s official charitable arm, began the season with multiple fundraising initiatives in the DMV community. More than 1,500 Nats fans logged a combined 4,650 miles in the inaugural Nationals Home Run Charity 5K. The virtual, week-long race raised over $197,000.
Nationals Philanthropies also partnered with Humane Rescue Alliance to support sheltered animals during its Spring Forward campaign. The initiative raised more than $28,000, including matched funds by Nationals Philanthropies and Max and Erica Scherzer, which will go toward the care of 112 rescue animals.