Gallo ready to begin rehab, Gray ready to begin throwing off mound

The Nationals’ run-starved lineup should get a couple of veterans back in the coming days.

First baseman Joey Gallo is scheduled to begin what should be a brief rehab assignment Saturday at Single-A Fredericksburg. Outfielder Victor Robles, meanwhile, continues on his rehab assignment at Triple-A Rochester and appears close to rejoining the big league club.

Gallo, out since April 27 with a sprained left shoulder, is ready to start playing in minor league games a week later. He has already taken swings in the cage and is now prepared to face live pitching in a game.

Gallo is eligible to come off the 10-day injured list on Tuesday, so if all goes well he should be activated in time for the Nationals’ series opener against the Orioles that night. The 30-year-old was off to a miserable start to his season, batting .122 with three homers, five RBIs and 43 strikeouts in 91 plate appearances, but his presence would still be a boost to a Nats lineup that has scored only two runs in its last three games.

Robles is set to play in his fourth rehab game tonight for Triple-A Rochester, batting leadoff and starting in center field. The 26-year-old suffered a hamstring strain April 3 and has been on the IL since. He’s 3-for-10 with a triple and two RBIs so far on rehab.

“If he keeps hitting triples, he’s fine,” manager Davey Martinez said. “He looked fine. I watched the game on my iPad, and it looks like he’s running well. The biggest thing is his running. We need him. He’s going to play center field, probably some right field, when he comes back. But he needs to run. He looks like he’s running really well.”

Martinez suggested Robles may not have the center field job to himself upon his return. With rookie Jacob Young performing well, Robles could get some playing time alongside him in right field.

“Jacob’s playing really well, so I kind of want to keep him in there,” Martinez said. “The beauty of having Vic is we can give Jacob a day off, have him play center field. But Vic can also play some right field as well. For me, that’s a really good problem to have: to have two guys who can really go get the baseball like that.”

The bigger boost to the Nationals lineup would be Lane Thomas, but the outfielder still has a way to go in his return from a sprained MCL in his left knee. Thomas began taking some “dry” swings (without actually hitting a ball) on Thursday, according to Martinez.

On the pitching front, Josiah Gray is set to cross a big hurdle in his return from a forearm strain when he throws off a bullpen mound Saturday. It’ll be the first time the right-hander has done that since going on the 15-day IL with his flexor strain 3 1/2 weeks ago.

Because not too much time has passed since Gray threw, the Nationals have been hopeful he won’t need a full-fledged, slow ramp-up before he’s ready to return. It’s too soon to know for sure, though, if that will be possible.

“I still don’t know, and I say this very cautiously,” Martinez said. “Because I want him back, but I don’t want to rush him to come back. We’re really going to make sure he’s 100 percent. But he’ll dictate how he feels. These next few days are really going to be … when he throws the bullpen, we’ll see how he really feels. I’m going to love when he comes back, because he’s a competitor and I love seeing him out there. But I want to make sure we do the right thing for him and this organization.”

Two injured left-handed relievers have also made progress of late, with Robert Garcia (influenza) set to make a rehab appearance for Fredericksburg on Saturday and potentially come off the IL after that, and Jose A. Ferrer (teres major strain) throwing from 60 feet Wednesday with no issues.

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