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08/02/10 9:01 PM ET

Pudge says he has plenty left in the tank

PHOENIX -- Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez isn't discouraged by his slow start after the All-Star break. In fact, the 20-year veteran says he feels so good that he believes he could probably play into his 40s.

"I think there is a lot of baseball in me," Rodriguez, 38, said. "I know I can play two or three years more. I'll play this year and two more, and we'll see what God's plans for me are."

Rodriguez, who is signed through 2011, hit .296 in the first half of the season, but had only five hits in his first 45 at-bats since the All-Star break entering Monday. He's played in 73 of the team's first 105 games, and was hitting .264 for the season.

He homered in the second inning Monday -- his 300th career homer as a catcher.

Retirement is the last thing on Rodriguez's mind.

"I feel great. I'm healthy and my body feels good," he said. "I'm seeing the ball great and I'm making contact, but I can't control what happens after I hit it. I'm not worried."

Sidelined Strasburg continues to progress

PHOENIX -- Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg played catch and long toss in the outfield on Monday for the second consecutive day without having any problems, according to pitching coach Steve McCatty. Strasburg threw as far as 120 feet.

The next step for Strasburg, who has been on the disabled list because of shoulder stiffness retroactive to July 22, is a bullpen session Tuesday at Chase Field followed by a day off Wednesday. On Thursday, Strasburg will throw a simulated game. He is eligible to come off the DL on Friday, but the Nats have said that he will not rejoin the club on the current seven-game road trip that continues to Los Angeles.

Additionally, the club has not announced when Strasburg will rejoin the rotation, but based on the timing of his simulated game, the rookie is lined up for a start against Florida on Aug. 10 in Washington. Manager Jim Riggleman has said that he does not believe Strasburg will need a rehab assignment before being taken off the DL.

In nine Major League starts, Strasburg is 5-2 with a 2.32 ERA.

Well-traveled Maxwell returns to Majors

PHOENIX -- On Monday, the Nationals recalled outfielder Justin Maxwell to the big leagues and transferred right-handed pitcher Tyler Walker to the 60-day disabled list.

Maxwell, who has been optioned four times this season, hit .287 with 17 doubles, six home runs and 21 RBIs in 66 contests with the Chiefs. He has four hits in 38 at-bats for the Nationals this season, and is a career .216 hitter in three seasons with Washington.

"I think he's handled it outstanding," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. "He's gone down there [to the Minors] and done a good job each time he has gone down there. His role will be pretty much what it has been when he's been here, and try to help the ballclub anyway he can.

"He's a great baserunner and good defender. Right now, our outfield situation is what it is, and I don't have a lot of at-bats for him, but those things change."

Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.