The Nationals returned from their road trip on Friday with some ominous news regarding starting pitcher Joe Ross, that his minor league rehab assignment had been halted due to a setback in his recovery from right shoulder inflammation. Ross felt soreness and it was preventing him from building back his arm strength and his fastball velocity, which was one of the initial red flags that alerted the Nats to his injury before he left for the disabled list.
In Ross' last big league start on July 2 he saw his fastball drop to an average of 91.8 miles per hour and by the end of his 5 1/3 innings he was regularly topping out at 89. That was down from his previous average fastball speed of 93.4 miles per hour. He usually can touch 95 or 96 with consistency.
Ross was closer to that during his rehab outings, but still not where he should be.
"It was back, but I wouldn't say it was back 100 percent. I was probably still low- to mid-90s, just not quite going all the way with it because of the discomfort. That's frustrating because I was working to try to get off the DL," he explained.
Ross, 23, was supposed to make his third rehab start on Thursday before the Nats ended his assignment. He previously threw 67 pitches at Triple-A Syracuse on July 30 and 43 pitches for Single-A Hagerstown on July 24.
Through those outings, Ross just didn't feel right.
"Throwing was uncomfortable. It was kind of like, 'what am I going to do with that?' Hopefully, it will just take a few more days to knock it out. I'll stay on the same physical therapy program and hopefully it will be 100 percent," he said.
Ross hopes to resume throwing in the coming days. He is currently doing exercises to strengthen his shoulder and the areas around it, and seems confident he can return to 100 percent soon.
"The last thing I want to do is throw a few games and then go right back to the DL. Hopefully by giving it a little bit more time I can knock it out. Then when I come back, hopefully I can come back to finish strong the end of the year and not have to worry about my arm is feeling," he said.
Ross is 7-4 with a 3.49 ERA through 16 starts for the Nationals this season.
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