Jordan Zimmermann, the Washington Nationals top pitching prospect not named Stephen Strasburg, continued on his road to recovery today following his season-ending Tommy John surgery last summer. The hard throwing righty threw 35 pitches off the mound this afternoon at Nationals Park, completing two innings in a simulated game.
Byron Kerr of MASN caught up with the 24-year-old today about the next steps in his come back:
"Sunday will be a bullpen session. 20 to 25 pitches, nice and easy, keep my arm in shape and get ready for Tuesday...I think I am heading to Potomac at the beginning of July some time. The rehab starts there. Hopefully everything goes well and I can make it up here by the end of the year."
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reported today that left-handed starter Scott Olsen is aiming for a July return following the shoulder injury he suffered in may. He is currently recovering in extended spring training in Florida. Kilgore writes:
"(Olsen) plans to return to the majors within "three or four weeks," his agent Matt Sosnick said today.
After reporting to Viera, Olsen began playing catch Tuesday. He hopes to pitch in a minor league rehab assignment in two or three weeks, then return to the Nationals rotation."
Veteran starting pitcher Jason Marquis was also working towards a comeback this afternoon in Nats park, throwing long distances to help rebuild arm strength after elbow surgery in May. However, Bill Ladson tweeted that there is no timetable on his return.
Unfortunately for the Nationals, the team at the major league level continues to lose steam as they wait for reinforcements in their rotation. It appears that while these three starters, as well as Ross Detwiler, are on pace to make strong returns in 2011, it doesn't appear they will be able to be contributing factors in 2010. While Zimmermann and Olsen will likely see starts at Nats Park later this year, at this pace the Nationals may be long out of it.
The good news is the 2011 pitching staff is really starting to take shape. While entities like Capps and Livan Hernandez may not be around, a bullpen base of Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard will provide a strong foundation, and a potential rotation of Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, John Lannan, Jason Marquis, and Ross Detwiler could be the recipe for a playoff berth.
That prognosis of course is based on the hope that all of these pitchers will have full recoveries, which at this point, is still very hopeful.