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09/28/10 4:48 PM ET

Cast removed, Strasburg set to start rehab

Nationals phenom hopes to return to action in about a year

WASHINGTON -- A month after having elbow reconstruction surgery, Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg said he had his cast removed two weeks ago, is close to having his range of motion back and should be rehabbing his right elbow soon.

Strasburg, who is continuing his studies at San Diego State University, said he watches the Nationals on a regular basis and acknowledged that it's sometimes hard to watch them because he is not out there. Strasburg is expected to be back on a Major League mound by the end of next year.

"I wish I was out there with everybody," Strasburg said during a conference call on Tuesday. "I think the hardest part was being back [in California] and waiting for the surgery to happen. Once it was over with, it was sense of relief. I knew everything was fixed and I'm closer to getting back out there."

Strasburg was the talk of baseball after making his Major League debut on June 8 against the Pirates. A sellout crowd of 40,315 at Nationals Park saw Strasburg allow just four hits while striking out a club-record 14 batters. The 14 strikeouts were also one shy of the all-time Major League mark for a pitcher in his debut, set by Karl Spooner in 1954 and J.R. Richard in '71.

But Strasburg's season came to an end after he felt pain in his right elbow on Aug. 21 against the Phillies. He would have surgery a couple of weeks later. The 22-year-old made 12 starts and went 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA.

"I'm chalking it up as a great season," Strasburg said. "It's unfortunate for this to happen. While I was out there, I had more people become Nats fans. I know they are going to be there when I come back in a year. I'm not too worried about it. I know I'm going to work as hard as I possibly can, be back out there and show people what I can bring to the table."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.