Stephen Strasburg throws for first time after surgery

In his road back from Tommy John surgery, Stephen Strasburg will pass lots of little milestones like the one he reached today. He’ll throw from certain distances for the first time, he’ll take a mound for the first time, he’ll begin to throw breaking pitches again, he’ll pitch batting practice and simulated games, and he’ll finally begin a rehab assignment. Today’s development, in the grand scheme of things, might turn out to be a minor one. But Strasburg has to start somewhere.

Strasburg, who had surgery to repair his torn ulnar collateral ligament in September, soft tossed today for the first time since the injury. The Nationals announced the session was in San Diego as part of his physical therapy program, and said the right-hander will begin a throwing program when he arrives in Viera, Fla., for spring training.

The 22-year-old isn’t likely to be back in the majors until September, at the very earliest, but he’s still likely to be a source of big news this spring as he tries to return to the form that made him the talk of baseball last year. Strasburg’s first steps will be minor ones as he gets acclimated to throwing again, but as he begins to build strength in his arm, he’ll start making more significant moves toward pitching.

He said in December he is on schedule with his rehab, though he suspects he’s actually ahead of where he’s supposed to be.