WASHINGTON -- There are a lot of fans throughout Major League Baseball who are curious to see Stephen Strasburg return to the mound Tuesday night.

Count Dodgers manager Don Mattingly among them.

"He's created a buzz, that's for sure, last year, and [he] continues to," Mattingly said. "And he's produced. When he's pitched, he's pitched well."

Strasburg is scheduled to make his first start of the season Tuesday, and it will be against the Dodgers, something that should create a buzz not only in Washington, but around the baseball world.

The big right-hander has been out since having Tommy John surgery last September and is ready to return. Mattingly said the Dodgers have seen video on him, but he said getting in the box is a whole different story.

"Nothing's like getting up there, honestly, to see it, actually see movement," Mattingly said. "You've just got to find out when you get up there."

Mattingly said the Dodgers have gotten good reports on Strasburg and what he's done in rehab starts. They've heard his velocity is up and he's throwing strikes.

Things like that are a challenge for Major League players. Mattingly talked about what it was like to face guys like Nolan Ryan -- saying the Hall of Famer could still "bring it" at the age of 44 -- and how players enjoy those battles.

"I think you want to see the best guys out there," Mattingly said. "Guys like this are fun to play against."

Versatile Mitchell working on catching skills

WASHINGTON -- Since being recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque last week, Russell Mitchell has already started at first and third. But he'll also get some time at catcher, to learn more about how to handle that position for next year and the future.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that would make Mitchell even more valuable in the coming seasons.

"So many things happen during the course of a game, over different games," Mattingly said. "It's just nice to have guys who can play all over the place."

Mattingly said Mitchell's done it before, and the skipper has been impressed by his versatility. They're not yet sure if he's an everyday type of player, but learning to catch will help his chances at getting playing time,

"It really sets him up to be a multi-purpose guy in this league," Mattingly said.

Club's long road trip stops in nation's capital

WASHINGTON -- The Dodgers' four-game series in Washington, which began Monday, is the third part of a four-city, 11-game trek.

Los Angeles will be in Washington through Thursday and heads back to San Francisco to finish the trip this weekend. The Dodgers began the trip last week with a one-day makeup in Pittsburgh and played in Atlanta over the weekend.

Despite the travels, the Dodgers have been playing well. Their six-game winning streak was snapped Sunday in Atlanta, but they've won 11 of 13.

This is the Dodgers' only trip to Washington this season.

Worth noting

• Catcher Rod Barajas celebrated his 36th birthday Monday, but he was not in the starting lineup.

• The Dodgers are staying busy, playing 24 games in 24 days in a tough stretch that runs until after their Sept. 18 game. They've started by going 8-2.

• Matt Kemp was just 1-for-10 against Washington starter John Lannan before an RBI double in the first.

• Entering Monday, the Dodgers had scored 32 runs in Hiroki Kuroda's last four starts, and he's won four straight starts for the first time in his career.