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Fister to pitch at AA, Strasburg to face live hitters

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Fister to pitch at AA, Strasburg to face live hitters

NEW YORK — Doug Fister will make another rehab start later this week, and if all goes well the right-hander likely would be ready to return to the Nationals rotation after that. Stephen Strasburg, meanwhile, is likely to face live hitters later this week as he moves closer to coming off the disabled list himself.

Fister, who pitched 3 2/3 innings Sunday for Class AAA Syracuse, will next pitch Friday for Class AA Harrisburg, building up his arm. The veteran right-hander, on the DL with a strained forearm muscle since May 15, is slated to throw up to 75 pitches, after which he could be ready to return to the big-league rotation.

“We know Doug,” manager Matt Williams said. “It’s a matter of him making sure that he can get 6-7 innings, at least. He [was] 3 2/3 [innings] and 60 [pitches in his last start]. There’s no reason he can’t go to 75 and see where he’s at there, and then we can make a decision.”

Rookie right-hander Joe Ross, who impressed in his major-league debut over the weekend, will start Friday at Milwaukee, Williams said, with Fister lined up to replace him after that turn.

[MORE NATS: Here's the Game Thread for tonight's game against the Yankees]

Strasburg, meanwhile, threw a bullpen session at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday and emerged with no discomfort in his lower neck or upper back, which landed him on the DL one week ago. Strasburg is now ready to face live hitters, which he’ll likely do later this week at Miller Park.

Once he crosses that hurdle, Strasburg will need to go on a rehab assignment, Williams said. That’s the true test of his discomfort, which to date has only occurred while pitching in actual games.

“It’s particularly important for him to go out there and get some adrenaline going and let it fly, and make sure he’s OK,” the manager said.

In other injury news, Denard Span was scratched from Tuesday night’s lineup, likely due to a recurrence of the back spasms that forced him out of Sunday’s game early.

Span had originally been listed as the Nationals’ leadoff hitter and center fielder. But after experiencing those spasms during Sunday’s loss to the Cubs, he wanted to test himself out during batting practice before knowing he would be good to play. Something apparently didn’t feel right, because he was scratched from the lineup about an hour before first pitch.

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.