HARRISBURG, Pa. - Right-hander Stephen Strasburg will have a familiar battery mate tonight when he makes his sixth minor league rehabilitation start, pitching for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators against the Portland Sea Dogs. Ivan Rodriguez, currently on a injury rehabilitation assignment while recovering from an oblique injury, will be behind the plate catching Strasburg.
The irony isn't lost on Rodriguez, who was in the same position last Aug. 21 when Strasburg walked off a mound in Phildelphia awkwardly holding his right arm after sustaining the injury that led to his Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery.
Rodriguez said Strasburg jokes with him about the divergent roads back from injury that have landed them at Metro Bank Park on the banks of the Susquehanna River. And to hear Rodriguez tell it, it might not be the last time the two team up - Rodriguez hinted before Thursday night's game that he's nearing the end of his injury rehab.
"I feel good," Rodriguez said, adding that he expected to play for Harrisburg today and tomorrow. After that, he thinks he'll be ready to return to the Nationals.
Judging from his batting practice session before Thursday's game, the oblique injury is no longer restricting Rodriguez's trunk movement. While the rest of the Senators took advantage of canceled BP, Rodriguez spent about 15 minutes stinging line drives and hitting rockets up the middle. By the end of his session, Rodriguez was slamming balls into the outfield gaps and down the left-field line.