Drew Storen is expected to begin a rehab assignment with Class A Potomac on Thursday, putting the Nationals reliever on track to come off the disabled list for the club's first game after next week's All-Star break.
Storen (out since spring training with a bone spur in his elbow) will make four rehab appearances, manager Davey Johnson said, pitching every other day. That would make his final outing July 11 and leave him available to appear out of the Nationals' bullpen July 13 in Miami.
"That's the plan," Johnson said. "I think that would be enough."
The Nationals also expect to have Henry Rodriguez back in a matter of days. The right-hander, on the DL with a finger strain, has made seven rehab appearances for Class AA Harrisburg and Class AAA Syracuse and has yet to allow a hit (though he has walked five batters).
The return of both Storen and Rodriguez will force the Nationals to clear two spots in their bullpen, and one of those spots is likely the one currently held by Chien-Ming Wang. The veteran right-hander has not adapted well to a long relief role, and now the club believes he may not be 100 percent healthy.
Wang's personal trainer, who has been traveling with the club for the last week, believes he's been unable to raise his arm to a proper angle to throw his sinker because of a problem with his hip.
"She thinks that he's some kind of out of whack, because he's not able to get in the position he needs to be where he's on top," Johnson said. "So she's been putting him through exercises and stuff to try to get his mechanics better. But that's a work in progress."
It's possible the Nationals would determine Wang needs to be placed back on the DL.
Meanwhile, bench players Chad Tracy (groin) and Xavier Nady (wrist) might also begin rehab assignments Thursday at Potomac.