Bill Ladson

Strasburg (oblique) improving, plays catch

Next step for Nationals right-hander is throwing off a mound

Strasburg (oblique) improving, plays catch

WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who is on the 15-day disabled list because of a left oblique strain, played catch on flat ground on Thursday and Friday without any problems. Strasburg will continue to do similar activities for the next couple of days before it's time to throw off the mound.

"The oblique feels good. I'm just getting back out there and getting into a throwing program," Strasburg said. "Now it's just kind of doing exercises to strengthen and recondition the muscles around [the oblique]."

It was a frustrating first half for Strasburg, who went 5-5 with a 5.16 ERA in 13 starts. Strasburg has been on the disabled list twice and had to miss a start because of back issues. The injuries earlier this season were caused by his pitching mechanics.

"I'm learning about myself and finding out what makes me tick," Strasburg said. "I think it's a little bit uncomforting in this go-round because I was feeling really good before [I went on the disabled list]. … I have something to build off of. I'll keep doing what I was doing before. I'll go back out and keep getting better."

It appears the oblique injury had nothing to do with his pitching mechanics. Strasburg hurt the oblique against the Giants on July 4. He had cruised for 3 2/3 innings, allowing one hit and striking out three.

After inducing a groundout from Buster Posey for the second out of the fourth inning, Strasburg grabbed at his left side and exited the game soon thereafter.

• First baseman Ryan Zimmerman [plantar fasciitis] and third baseman Anthony Rendon [left quad strain] had full workouts Thursday and Friday. It appears the two players are close to rehab assignments. They ran the bases in a controlled environment.

"They are both taking batting practice, they are taking ground balls," manager Matt Williams said. "Our clubhouse is pretty full with a lot of guys that are close to getting going. That's a good sign."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.