Belisle ready but expects to continue rehab at Harrisburg

Matt Belisle believes he's ready to come off the disabled list and rejoin the Nationals bullpen. The club, however, wants the veteran right-hander to continue his rehab assignment. So after three appearances at high Single-A Potomac, Belisle is now expected to head to Double-A Harrisburg.

Belisle, out since April 26 with a strained right calf, pitched two innings last night for Potomac, allowing two runs on four hits (one of them a homer). He also struck out three. That came after two scoreless one-inning appearances.

Belisle-Throws-Red-Sidebar.jpgI feel great with the calf, doing everything I can," he said. "The therapist says I'm ready to go, ready to rock."

Relievers typically don't need a lot of time to build themselves up, especially after a relatively short DL stint that didn't involve any arm injury.

"I never took off," Belisle said. "I was pitching off the mound, doing side sessions quite a bit. I guess when you get up, you lose a little bit of feel, but not like you're coming in and starting all over. I've done this a few times."

Despite that, the Nationals are taking a slow and steady route in this case. Belisle didn't know the exact plan yet, but he expects to join the Harrisburg roster sometime soon.

This may in part have to do with the Nats wanting to make sure Belisle is fully ready to return to a regular, consistent workload. But it may also have to do with the tough decision the club faces in clearing a roster spot for the 35-year-old.

Sammy Solis, who was promoted from Triple-A Syracuse when Belisle landed on the DL, has impressed. The left-hander has a 1.93 ERA in 12 appearances, allowing only six hits while striking out 14 batters in 14 innings.

Manager Dusty Baker has enjoyed having a third lefty in his bullpen, so that could make Solis less expendable, but then the Nationals would have to create room elsewhere. The only right-hander in the bullpen with options is Blake Treinen, who has a 3.00 ERA in 23 appearances, second-most among the relief corps.

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