Strasburg on track to start next Sunday, Harper improving (and Espinosa update)

After throwing a bullpen session today and reporting no discomfort in or around his strained lat muscle, Stephen Strasburg has been put on a track to return to the Nationals rotation next Sunday, June 16, the first day that he’s eligible to come off the disabled list.

Assuming he doesn’t report any issues in the coming days, Strasburg will throw a simulated game Tuesday in Colorado, and then would be lined up to pitch next Sunday against the Indians.

“He had a great bullpen,” manager Davey Johnson said today. “Threw the heck out of the ball and had no symptoms from the injury. So he’s good to go.”

Strasburg has recovered quickly from the strained lat, an injury that knocked him out of his last start, back on May 31, after just two innings.

Bryce Harper has taken a little longer to recover from bursitis in his left knee, but Johnson said the Nats’ 20-year-old outfielder has made progress in the last couple days.

Harper, who hasn’t played since May 27 because of the swelling in his knee, is set to visit Dr. James Andrews on Monday to get a second opinion. Swelling increased in the knee earlier this week after Harper did some jogging in a pool, prompting the Nationals to schedule Harper an appointment with Dr. Andrews to get the knee looked at.

“He felt pretty good today and the swelling was down,” Johnson said. “Knowing Harp, he’s still shooting for Tuesday, but I think that’s unrealistic.

“He felt pretty good, and that’s a good thing. So we’ll see what Dr. Andrews has to say on Monday and we’ll have to go from there.”

Meanwhile, Danny Espinosa will meet with Nationals medical director Dr. Wiemi Douoguih to have his fractured right wrist examined. Espinosa got a cortisone shot in the wrist earlier this week to try and get rid of some of the inflammation in there. If he’s cleared by Dr. Douoguih, Espinosa will rest a couple more days and then start working his way back.

“If he’s symptom-free from the injection he had, ... I think we’ll probably give him a few days off and he’ll resume baseball activities,” Johnson said.

When the Nationals placed Espinosa on the disabled list Tuesday, there were indications that they were going to give the second baseman a bit more of an extended rest period, allowing his wrist to heal. But Espinosa now could be on track to start a rehab appearance in the near future, allowing him not only to test out the wrist but also go about trying to build up his confidence at the plate after a very rough first two months to the season.

“With Danny, he’ll play with a broken arm,” Johnson said. “He’s played with a broken (wrist) and he’s played with a tear in his rotator cuff. This move, he’s finally being a little bit honest that the thing is bothering him. But he’s a gamer. He plays not feeling 100 percent. But hopefully he can’t cause any worse damage to the injuries and he can go out and play and get right and come back and help us.”

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