Tonight’s All-Star Game - in which he’s serving as a member of Dave Roberts’ National League coaching staff - is first and foremost on his mind, but Nationals manager Davey Martinez can’t help but start thinking ahead to the resumption of the season Friday night. Especially the key players he expects to have back on his active roster for that series opener against the Braves.
Stephen Strasburg has been cleared to come off the disabled list and will start Friday night, Martinez revealed this afternoon. Ryan Zimmerman, who is rehabbing tonight for Double-A Harrisburg, is on track to come off the DL on Friday, as well. The prognosis on Sean Doolittle is less certain, but the All-Star closer isn’t expected to miss much more time from his foot injury.
Strasburg will be making his first start in a big league game since June 8, when he was pulled from an outing with right shoulder inflammation. He made two rehab starts in the last week for Single-A Potomac, building up to 82 pitches over 5 2/3 innings. Having emerged from those appearances healthy, Strasburg was cleared to come off the DL.
The Nationals will put Strasburg on the mound right out of the chute for the second-half opener in a big series against the Braves. Martinez couldn’t formally announce rotation plans after that, but he’s leaning toward starting Gio Gonzalez on Saturday and Max Scherzer on Sunday on regular rest following his start in tonight’s All-Star Game.
Zimmerman, out since May 12 with a right oblique strain, made his rehab debut for Potomac on Monday, going 2-for-2 with a double, a walk and three runs scored. He shifted to Harrisburg tonight and homered in his first at-bat. If all goes well, the veteran first baseman will play another game for Harrisburg on Wednesday, then rejoin the club and be activated for Friday night’s game.
Doolittle, selected to the All-Star Game but unavailable to pitch tonight due to a pinched nerve in his left foot, has been playing catch the last two days and appears not to need much time to fully recover. The Nationals don’t know yet if their closer will be ready to return Friday, but they don’t expect to wait much longer than that.