Strasburg on track to return Saturday, Turner takes BP on field

Stephen Strasburg appears to be on track to pitch for the Nationals this weekend after a successful rehab start Monday night. And Trea Turner appears to be on track to play shortstop for them not too much longer after that, after taking batting practice on the field this afternoon for the first time since fracturing his wrist.

trea-turner-stealing-white.jpgToday’s swath of injury updates on South Capitol Street included two bits of particularly encouraging news involving two of the Nationals’ most prominent rehabbing stars.

Strasburg, on the heels of a five-inning rehab start Monday night for Single-A Potomac, is now going through his typical between-starts regimen, one that puts him on line to pitch for the Nats on Saturday in San Diego.

“If things go well, he possibly could make a start in the big leagues here soon,” manager Dusty Baker said.

The club isn’t making any official pronouncements about the plan for Strasburg yet, but there have been multiple signs in the last 24 hours suggesting the team is relatively confident he’ll be on the mound Saturday at Petco Park.

Strasburg’s 64-pitch start Monday night in Woodbridge, Va., went off without a hitch. The right-hander, out since July 24 with nerve impingement in his elbow, allowed one run, striking out five while walking one and expressed confidence afterward he is physically ready to return to the big leagues.

The Nationals’ decision today to option A.J. Cole to Triple-A Syracuse and keep third catcher Pedro Severino (who served as the 26th man for Sunday’s doubleheader) on their active roster offered further evidence the club is confident Strasburg is good to go this weekend.

There were equally encouraging signs about Turner, who today took batting practice with his teammates on the field at Nationals Park, the first time he’s done that since getting hit by a pitch June 30 and fracturing his right wrist.

Turner had already crossed every other baseball activity - fielding, throwing, running - off his checklist, with swinging a bat the last one to accomplish.

Asked if it went well, the shortstop responded: “Yeah, feels great.”

The Nationals have made no announcements about the plan for Turner, but he should be close to beginning a minor league rehab assignment, the final step before he is activated off the DL.

More injury updates...

* Stephen Drew took grounders at second base during BP for the first time since going on the DL July 26 with an abdominal strain.

* Brian Goodwin is out of the lineup again tonight after missing the second half of Sunday’s doubleheader with tightness in his groin.

Baker didn’t have much of an update on the outfielder.

“Can’t be a whole lot better,” the manager said. “It’s only been one day. I haven’t talked to my trainer about it, but unless he found some miracle drug he’s probably the same. Cause he’s not dressed today. I haven’t had an opportunity to really talk to him.”

Asked if the DL is a possibility for Goodwin, Baker replied: “I mean, you’ve got to wait a couple days to see the severity of it, see how much swelling is in there.”

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