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Strasburg goes five innings in rehab start

Span nursing back stiffness; Zimmerman's ailing left foot healing, but no timetable

WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg pitched in a rehab game for Double-A Harrisburg on Wednesday afternoon. He went five innings, allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and struck out six batters in a 4-3 loss to Richmond.

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Strasburg could have gone another inning. Instead, he had a bullpen session and threw nine pitches. Manager Matt Williams didn't rule out Strasburg pitching in a Major League game next week. But first the Nationals have to see how he feels on Thursday and how he gets through his next bullpen session, which will be in a couple of days.

"I thought he came out of it fine," Williams said about Strasburg's outing. "He threw 71 pitches in five innings, which is a really nice pitch count for him. He had another inning in the bullpen. He threw nine to give him 80 pitches. He came out of feeling fine."

Strasburg has been on the disabled list since May 30 because of neck muscle tightness. He has spent most of the time fixing his mechanics, which went out of whack because of an ankle injury.

Center fielder Denard Span, meanwhile, was not in Wednesday's lineup against the Rays because of back stiffness. The plane ride from Tampa to Washington was tough on Span.

"I got off the plane and the back was a little tight, so I figure they would give me a day, get some treatment so it could calm down," Span said.

Span has been dealing with back problems for almost two weeks, but managed to avoid the DL. He has been productive this season, hitting .303 with five home runs and 20 RBIs.

First base Ryan Zimmerman, on the DL because of left foot plantar fasciitis, acknowledged that it has been "brutal" doing nothing and waiting for his foot to heal. Zimmerman doesn't know when he will be back on the field.

"You just have to rest it, let it heal. Hopefully, it will be sooner rather than later," Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman was off to one of the poorest starts of his career, hitting .209 with five home runs and 34 RBIs. He said on good days, he could play at 85 percent. On bad days, as he put it, it was worse than that.

"There is no excuse for how I played or anything like that," Zimmerman said. "It just got to the point where it wasn't good for me or the team."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats.
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