[Updated 6:35 p.m.]
The Nationals had a few pieces of good news to share on the injury front before Monday's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, as their overall health as a team continues to improve.
David Carpenter has been cleared to resume his throwing program after seeing a second opinion on his right shoulder. Carpenter has been on the disabled list since July 12 with right shoulder inflammation. The right-hander began a throwing program in July, but had to be shut down after feeling discomfort and was given anti-inflammatory shots and an MRI.
Now Carpenter appears to have turned a corner in his rehab.
"He's back on a throwing program and getting ready to go again. All the results are good and he's building back up. He'll go out and throw today and start that process," Matt Williams said.
Denard Span resumed baseball activities on Saturday when he joined the team in New York. He is rehabbing from back tightness and has been on the DL since July 7.
Span has been throwing, taking fielding practice and has been hitting in the batting cage. The next step is live batting practice and Williams thinks Span could be ready for that very soon.
"In the next couple of days we'll get him out for a live BP session and then look for him to get some live BP later in the week. Then running the bases. That's kind of of the final step. Depending on how he feels, we'll progress to that. We'll see," he explained.
Span has also been running sprints in the outfield and continuing his core-strengthening exercises.
"The last few days has been pretty good, so, very encouraging," Span said. "I’ve been running sprints the last couple days. Today, I added groundballs and we upped the sprints today. Definitely tired. My legs feel very, very heavy cause I haven’t done much in two-and-a-half, three weeks. The fact that I’m out here, getting a good sweat on is definitely a good sign for me."
Williams said there is no specific activity they see as a final test before Span goes out on a rehab assignment.
"Volume. It's going to be volume, probably," Williams said. "Limited in the cage is one thing, but getting out there and just reacting without having to think about it is key, too. But if he can go through multiple BP sessions and early work and regular defensive work that he does, then he should be fine to get out there and play somewhere."
Williams added that Span has experienced no back spasms or pain since increasing his workload on Saturday. But though he feels good, Span doesn't want to rush back, even with the NL East division race starting to heat up.
"I have to be smart. I rushed myself out of spring training and came back a couple of weeks early," Span said. "In hindsight, looking now, it probably would have been a little bit smarter to take those couple of weeks to get myself more prepared for the season. This time around, I want to make sure I'm all the way ready. I want to make sure I'm ready to come back and play this last month-and-a-half to two months straight without any complications."
Stephen Strasburg will pitch his second minor league rehab assignment on Monday night with the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs. The right-hander has been sidelined since July 5 with a left oblique strain.
Strasburg threw 64 pitches in his first outing on July 29 and the Nats would like to see him throw 20 to 25 more in this appearance.
"85-90, depending on how everything goes, how stressful his innings are. If it's a good outing for him and he feels good about him and he gets through five at 70, we can push him another inning. So, it depends on how it all goes. But the tops is 90," Williams said.