HOUSTON -- Stephen Strasburg threw a simulated game on Monday afternoon in Viera, Fla., and manager Davey Johnson was pleased with what he heard about the performance."I hear he threw outstanding," Johnson said. "He threw 95 [mph]. "I know he's holding back," Johnson added with a smile. "I know he's chomping at the bit to get back [here]." Strasburg, who turns 23 on Wednesday, underwent Tommy John surgery last Sept. 3 after going 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA as a rookie.
Wrist healed, Hairston rejoins Nationals
HOUSTON -- The Nationals started their healing process on Monday by activating veteran infielder Jerry Hairston Jr. from the disabled list. Hairston had been out since July 1 with a fractured right wrist."I feel fresh and ready to roll," Hairston said. "This is a pretty important stretch for us. Hopefully, we can make a run here." Hairston was hitting .260 with 10 doubles, two homers and 17 RBIs before being injured. "I had started to get on a roll and feel good at the plate," he said. "You never want to go on the DL. It's pretty frustrating. [But] I got a chance to get well. I had a toe injury two and a half months ago." The Nationals made room for Hairston by sending infielder Brian Bixler to Triple-A Syracuse. Hairston played two games with Double-A Harrisburg before rejoining the Nationals. "It's not like starting over," he said. "That's why I went on the rehab assignment, [to] get in a batter's box and see live pitching. The second day I felt really good." Count manager Davey Johnson among Hairston's fans. "Hairston has done a great job all year long," Johnson said. "He's played a lot of positions."
Gorzelanny unsure about making next start
HOUSTON -- Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny said that it is too early to determine if he can make his next scheduled start.Gorzelanny sprained his right ankle on Sunday when he collided with Braves catcher Brian McCann while scoring on a triple by Roger Bernadina. He left the game after the collision, pitching only two innings.
"It didn't feel as bad as I thought it would," Gorzelanny said before Monday night's game. "There is pain."Gorzelanny, 2-6 with a 4.07 ERA, said that X-rays were negative, and that how the ankle progresses over the next two days will decide if he can start on Saturday at Los Angeles.
"I'll probably know by Thursday," he said.And if Gorzelanny isn't ready? "I could go with four guys," manager Davey Johnson said of his rotation. "We have a day off Thursday and another Monday." The Nationals return home from their three-city, nine-game trip on Monday and play the Marlins on Tuesday. Gorzelanny, who had reached base on a fielder's choice, cut Atlanta's early lead to one run by scoring. "I was looking at the ball," he said of the play. "The next thing I knew, I looked toward the plate, and [McCann] was right in front of me. There was nowhere to go but right into him." "It wasn't like he was trying to run over the catcher," Johnson said. "He was trying to avoid him. Somehow he knocked the ball away. "I saw him riding the bike [on Monday], so I think he's trying to keep it loose."
Pudge could return to action on Friday
HOUSTON -- Catcher Pudge Rodriguez said that he felt much better on Monday and could be ready to come off the disabled list when he's eligible on Friday.Rodriguez, who is recovering from tightness in his right oblique, hit in the batting cage before Monday's night game and said he saw noticeable improvement from Saturday, when he took 25 swings and felt some pain. "I feel better," Rodriguez said. "That's a good sign. I'm very close. I'm right there. Just because you don't feel any [pain], you still have to go through the schedule." Manager Davey Johnson said that Rodriguez still needs to prove that he is ready. "He's been hanging close to me and grinning, so he must have had a good day in the cage," Johnson said. "He's got to go through a full workout, but I don't think he can do that here."
Astros series a homecoming for Johnson
HOUSTON -- Manager Davey Johnson has come home for this week's three-game series against the Astros.Johnson was born in Orlando but grew up in San Antonio, 200 miles west of Houston. "I've got a whole ton of family in San Antonio," Johnson said. "A lot of brothers and sisters. They're descending [on Houston on Tuesday]." Johnson played at Texas A&M for two years before signing with the Orioles. He managed the Mets in 1986, when they beat the Astros in a wild six-game National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series vs. the Red Sox. Most baseball fans remember the Mets beating Boston in Game 6, which propelled them to the World Series title the next night. But Game 6 against the Astros was just as amazing. The Mets returned to Houston for the game at the Astrodome leading the series, 3-2. "We didn't want to face [Mike] Scott in Game 7," Johnson said of the right-hander, who had already thrown two complete games against the Mets in the series. "Scott was darn near unhittable that year." The Mets scored three runs in the top of the ninth and finally won, 7-6, in 16 innings. "[Houston left-hander Bob] Knepper threw a great ball, and we tied it in the ninth," Johnson said. "We went up a run [in the 14th], and I looked over at [pitching coach Mel] Stottlemyre and said, 'Why are you so nervous? It doesn't get any better than this.' Then a guy named [Billy] Hatcher tied it up, and we won it in 16. "Houston matched up as well as you can against us. It was such a relief to get through that series that we lost the first two games to Boston at home [in the World Series]."
Gene Duffey is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.