Strasburg, Ross to throw simulated games this week

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross will take another key step in their return from injury this week when they pitch in a simulated game at the Nationals’ spring training complex, one of their final tune-ups before both right-handers are likely to be cleared to begin rehab assignments for minor league affiliates.

Strasburg and Ross each threw live batting practice twice last week, so this is the next step in their program. Each will now pitch two simulated innings to teammates in West Palm Beach, Fla., beginning the process of building up their arms.

“They’re both going to pitch two innings and we’re going to progress them,” manager Davey Martinez said prior to the Nats’ series finale against the Angels. “And if this goes well, they’ll get on a five-day rotation and we’ll start building them up.”

Strasburg, recovering from last summer’s thoracic outlet surgery, has been tracking to make his season debut sometime in June, if there are no more setbacks along the way. Ross, who had arthroscopic surgery in early March to remove a bone spur from his elbow, has been on a rehab schedule similar to the one his fellow right-hander has been on, and thus could be about a month away from making his season debut as well.

The progression for both Strasburg and Ross now would include a build-up of their workloads in these simulated games while still in Florida. If all goes well, they would then prepare to join a minor league affiliate to begin a rehab assignment, the final step in the rehab process.

“They’re going to start off in Florida,” Martinez said. “And then as they start getting closer and building up their innings, when they’re at four or five ups, we’ll send them out and get them to an affiliate and get them built up.”

* After a scorching-hot start to his road trip, Victor Robles has cooled off dramatically since. The center fielder began the trip 10 days ago with a .152 batting average and .443 OPS. After going 8-for-12 with a double and two walks in San Francisco, those numbers rose to .259 and .662.

But entering today’s game, Robles was 2-for-15 with eight strikeouts, lowering his season totals back down to .233 and .603.

Martinez decided to give him the road trip finale off, starting Lane Thomas in center field and Yadiel Hernandez against Angels lefty Patrick Sandoval. Robles is expected back in the lineup for Tuesday’s homestand opener against the Mets.

“He’s been playing well,” Martinez said. “I just thought yesterday he wasn’t getting ready on time. So he’s going to work with (hitting coach Darnell Coles) today. We might need him later in the game. I just want to give him a couple days off and let him get back out there at home on Tuesday.”

* Gerardo Parra is joining the Nationals' front office as a special assistant to general manager Mike Rizzo, the team announced during today's broadcast on MASN2.

Parra tried to make the opening day roster this spring off a minor league contract. When he didn't make the club, he was given the option of reporting to Triple-A Rochester but ultimately chose not to continue playing.

The 35-year-old outfielder retires with a .275 career batting average, .725 OPS, 1,335 hits and 269 doubles across parts of 12 big league seasons with the Diamondbacks, Brewers, Orioles, Rockies, Giants and Nationals.

Parra also, of course, is forever etched in Nationals lore for his contributions on and off the field in 2019. A baby shark image is engraved in the team's World Series ring, representing Parra's unlikely walk-up song and the fan reaction it spurred. 

* The Nationals’ rotation plans for the upcoming series include Patrick Corbin in Tuesday’s opener, followed by Aaron Sanchez and Joan Adon. The Mets have yet to announce their pitching schedule for the series, but it won’t include Max Scherzer, who started today in Philadelphia and suffered his first loss since May 30, 2021 (when he was still with the Nats).

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