Nationals manager Dusty Baker gave updates his group of rehabbing players before Tuesday's series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Here's a roundup:
*Joe Ross threw a simulated game on Tuesday afternoon, a positive step that indicates he could be ready to begin his rehab assignment.
"Joe, he looked very good today," Baker said of his 23-year-old right hander, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list on July 3 with right shoulder inflammation. "I think he threw 35 pitches or something like that, consecutive pitches. So that's a pretty good sign. He had good velocity, good slider, and barring any setbacks he might go out this weekend to pitch somewhere."
Baker didn't specify where Ross would pitch his minor league starts, nor how many outings it would take before he's ready to return to the rotation. While he's out, the team will tap recently-promoted Reynaldo Lopez to take his spot.
Between Ross, Lopez and the top prospect Lucas Giolito, the Nats have a trio of talented young arms that could develop into the core of the team's future rotation. However, GM Mike Rizzo intimated on Tuesday that even though Lopez and Giolito have been called upon to make big-league starts, Ross' spot appears to be safe when he returns.
"I think Ross is the guy that's most established of the three," Rizzo said. "We've always said he's got the makeup of a 10-year veteran and he's a guy that's certainly not intimidated by the atmosphere and being in the big leagues."
* Anthony Rendon is out of the lineup for the second consecutive game with an unspecified illness. However, Baker said that the third baseman could be available off the bench as a pinch hitter. In Rendon's stead, the Nats will have Daniel Murphy start at the hot corner for the first time this season, with Trea Turner at second and Clint Robinson playing first.
"That's not my lineup of choice, but that's the lineup that we have, that I have to do," said Baker, implying that perhaps other options could also be unavailable Tuesday. Utility infielder Stephen Drew was not seen in pregame clubhouse availablility or on the field, so it's possible that he's the odd man out.
* It's unknown at the moment how long Sammy Solis will be out for. Though he was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday (retroactive July 8) with right knee inflammation, Baker said he hadn't received his MRI results. So stay tuned for an update on that front in a day or so.
* Ryan Zimmerman (left rib cage) is eligible to come off the 15-day DL on Friday, but the Nats have yet to decide if he will go on a rehab assignment.
"We've got to make a decision whether we send him off for a rehab assignment -- I think he's eligible to come off the DL on Friday I think," Baker said. "We'll continue to make an evaluation. I think he might even hit on the field today. We'll see. The thing you don't want is a setback in this situation. That's the one thing you don't want."
Zimmerman was seen running the bases before Sunday's game, and as Baker suggested, he did participate in batting practice breifly on Tuesday.