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Nats' reliever Casey Janssen ready for big step in rehab

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Nats' reliever Casey Janssen ready for big step in rehab

Reliever Casey Janssen made an appearance at Nationals Park on Wednesday as he trained with teammates in anticipation of his first minor league rehab assignment with Single-A Potomac the following night.

The right-hander has been recovering from right shoulder tendinitis, progressing through a throwing program in Viera, Fla. He is now ready for the next step as he works his way towards making his delayed Nationals debut.

Janssen said he still needs to work on a few things before he will be ready to pitch for the Nats.

"[My stuff] is not major league ready, which is annoying for me, but I’m getting there. It’s good to compete, good to get out there and face hitters and stuff like that. But still need my velocity to pick up a couple ticks and just get things a little bit more sharp with the breaking stuff. But come up here, get a few more outings in and see where I’m at.”

Manager Matt Williams believes the velocity will come back soon.

"I don’t think we’re concerned about it. That’s part of the progression. Once you had an issue and get shut down a while, you have to build strength and that strength comes from competitive innings," he said.

Janssen said he feels much like he usually does when games begin in spring training. He knows he is close, but is trying to stay patient while he finishes his recovery.

“It’s frustrating when you’ve worked the whole offseason to have a healthy spring training and to have a healthy season. I definitely didn’t draw it up to make it look like this," he said. "So that’s disappointing. It’s disappointing to not be here helping. But you’ve just got to deal with it, get through it, get back as fast as you can and try to help this team win some games.”

Janssen expects to throw one inning on Thursday for the Potomac Nationals and from there take several days off before pitching again. He needs to get to the point where he can pitch on back-to-back days.

That is all a matter of building strength, as Janssen believes the discomfort in his shoulder has subsided to the point where it will not return and crop up later in the year.

“I think it’s gone. I guess you never know. But I do think it was one of the those things that once you got past a certain stage in it, I think it just becomes something you’ve done your whole life. By no means do I need to be 100 percent pain-free everywhere. We’ve learned to pitch with a little bit of something. But at that point in spring training, I knew it was something that would be tough to get through for a season.”

Janssen signed with the Nationals on Feb. 2 after eight years with the Toronto Blue Jays. He holds a 3.52 ERA in 389 career appearances.

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Ozuna homers, Cardinals beat Nationals for 8th straight win

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Ozuna homers, Cardinals beat Nationals for 8th straight win

Marcell Ozuna homered and Austin Gomber tossed six shutout innings to lead the St. Louis Cardinals to a 4-2 win over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night.

St. Louis has won a season-high eight straight. The Cardinals, who are 18-9 since the All-Star break, captured their sixth successive series after taking the first three of the four-game set.

Daniel Murphy homered in the ninth for Washington, which has lost four in a row and seven of nine to fall below .500 and nine games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves in the NL East. The current skid began with a loss to the Cubs on a two-out, walk-off grand slam.

Ozuna homered in the second inning, his 14th of the season and his first since July 30.

Gomber (3-0), in his fourth start of the year, gave up three hits, struck out six and walked four.

Bud Norris pitched the ninth to pick up his 23rd save in 27 opportunities.

Harrison Bader and Yadier Molina added run-scoring hits for St. Louis, which improved to 19-9 since Mike Matheny was fired and replaced by interim manager Mike Shildt.

St. Louis infielder Matt Carpenter extended his on-base streak to 33 games with a walk in the fifth. It's the longest current streak in the majors. Carpenter left the game in the seventh after he was hit on the hand by a pitch from Matt Grace, but X-rays were negative.

Jeremy Hellickson (5-3) left in the fifth inning after colliding with Bader on a play at the plate following a wild pitch. Hellickson gave up three runs, two earned, on three hits in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked two.

Bader, who had three hits, also made a diving catch of a liner off the bat of Bryce Harper in the fourth.

The Cardinals, who have an NL-best 12-2 mark in August, remain one game behind Philadelphia for the second wild card spot. They are four games behind Chicago in the NL Central.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg threw a simulated game on Wednesday. He threw around 70 pitches and could be ready to return early next week, manager Dave Martinez said.

Cardinals: LHP Brett Cecil was activated from the 10-day disabled list on Wednesday. Cecil, who had been sidelined with inflammation in his right foot, pitched four scoreless innings in four appearances with Triple-A Memphis. LHP Tyler Webb was optioned to Memphis.

UP NEXT

RHP Tanner Roark (7-12, 4.12) will face RHP Luke Weaver (6-10, 4.66) in the finale of the four-game series on Thursday. Roark has won his last four decision, Weaver is 1-4 with a 5.13 ERA in nine career games against NL East foes.

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Nationals' Jeremy Hellickson exits game after collision

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Nationals' Jeremy Hellickson exits game after collision

Washington Nationals right-hander Jeremy Hellickson was removed from Wednesday night's game in St. Louis in the fifth inning after colliding with Cardinals outfielder Harrison Bader at the plate.

Hellickson was covering home after a wild pitch. He stumbled over Bader as Bader slid home safely.

Hellickson was charged with three runs, two earned, on three hits in his 4 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked two.