After a week of minor updates with some non-updates mixed in there, manager Dusty Baker still does not know whether Stephen Strasburg will return on Sunday with less than 24 hours to go until first pitch. The right-hander is eligible to be activated off the disabled list, is lined up to pitch, feels good enough to go and would like to. Yet still, the Nats aren't ready to say whether he will.
Baker says the Nationals, in fact, may wait until just before their 1:35 p.m. first pitch against the Reds before they choose between Strasburg and Lucas Giolito, the other option to start. The suspense is just too much, isn't it?
"It might be a game-time decision. Sometimes you've gotta go out there and warm up to see if you are indeed 100 percent," Baker said. "It's not up to me. It's up to how Stras feels. Right now he's feeling pretty good."
When pressed for further details, Baker declined.
"I'm sorry I don't have any more to tell you. That's just how it is," he said. "Let's change the subject because I don't have anything else to tell you."
Strasburg has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 16 with an upper back strain. He had an MRI on Monday and has since thrown two bullpen sessions, each time reporting through Baker that he had no complications from the injury, which has caused him to miss two of his scheduled starts so far.
*Bronson Arroyo is pitching in the Gulf Coast League as he continues work his way back from inflamed tendons in his right shoulder. It's a big step for the 15-year veteran, whom Baker has a history with dating back to their days with the Reds. Arroyo still has a long way to go, but he's showing progress and Baker's happy to see him coming along.
"It's great because he was one of the guys that did a lot for us in Cincinnati, not only for me but to the rest of the pitching staff. This guy, he brings a knowledge and wisdom to the pitching as well as on how to work hard. This guy is a hard, hard worker. He texted me the other day and said 'hey, thanks for asking me to stick with it.' Because he feels great. Who knows? Maybe some point in time he'll be able to help us this year," Baker said.
*Jonathan Papelbon (intercostal strain) is set to make his third rehab appearance on Saturday night in his second game in as many days with the Double-A Harrisburg Senators. Papelbon pitched a scoreless inning on Friday night with one strikeout and one walk for the Senators. After his Saturday night outing, Baker expects the Nats to decide on his next step - likely a promotion to the big leagues - on Monday or Tuesday.
*The Nationals and Reds played 14 innings on Friday night and starting catcher Jose Lobaton was removed for a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning. Wilson Ramos took over for catcher and played the rest of the game, but if he were to have been hurt in exras, the Nats would have needed an emergency catcher. Baker was asked Saturday who that would have been and he brought up Bryce Harper, who was a catcher in the amateur ranks before the Nats drafted him in 2010 and converted him to the outfield.
"Well, Bryce told me he used to catch. That's what he told me. Then, that day when [Anthony] Rendon got kicked out, he came to me and said 'I can pick it at third.' I bet you can. So, it might be Bryce. He signed as a catcher, right? I talked to [Jayson Werth], he signed as a catcher. But he was like 'no, no man,'" Baker joked.
"You're always afraid of that as a manager. You're always afraid that your second catcher will take a foul tip because who then is your emergency catcher? That adds value to whoever your utility guy is, because if he can be a third catcher, everybody doesn't want to catch. That was the last thing I wanted to do was catch. If I had that put on me, you just wouldn't have a catcher."