MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Ross throws on flat ground, making progress

Ross throws on flat ground, making progress

NEW YORK -- Nationals right-hander Joe Ross, who is on the disabled list because of shoulder inflammation, threw on flat ground before Saturday's game against the Mets at Citi Field.

Pitching coach Mike Maddux observed the session and felt Ross was taking baby steps toward getting back on the mound.

"Rest is what he needed," Maddux said. "He is throwing free and easy right now. He is doing some baby steps to get it back."

Ross is expected to have a bullpen session during the All-Star break. The Nationals don't need a fifth starter until they play the Padres on July 22, and manager Dusty Baker is hoping that Ross is ready to pitch by that time.

"We just don't know when he'll be back. He is training hard, working hard," Baker said. "I [think he will be] in better shape when he comes back compared to when he left."

Ross was placed on the 15-day DL on Sunday after the velocity on his fastball dropped significantly against the Reds the day before. Ross has a sinker that averages 93.5 mph, according to BrooksBaseball.net. During that game, it listed his sinker as averaging 91.8 mph, with it sitting in the high-80s during the fifth inning. At first, Ross said he was OK and that he just had poor command. But then he told Baker that he was experiencing shoulder discomfort, and the team decided to shut him down.

Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 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.