MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Baker: Ross' return to Nationals, role TBD

Baker: Ross' return to Nationals, role TBD

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are trying to figure out what to do with right-hander Joe Ross, who is currently on the 60-day disabled list because of right shoulder inflammation.

Manager Dusty Baker said Ross' shoulder is progressing well, but Ross' next start is in limbo, because it depends on how well Minor League affiliates such as Class A Advanced Potomac or Class A Hagerstown are doing in the playoffs. If the Minor League teams continue to advance, Ross may get a rehab assignment with Potomac or Hagerstown. If those teams are eliminated, then Ross will have a simulated game to get his pitch count up, according to Baker.

With right-hander Stephen Strasburg out indefinitely with a strained flexor mass, Ross could be back in the rotation with the Nationals. But Baker said the team is not going to rush Ross back to the Major Leagues, and the manager has not ruled out Ross coming out of the bullpen.

"We haven't decided. Joe is not out of the woods yet," Baker said. "What happens if he feels something again after throwing 80 pitches? We have to see where he is at this time, because Joe Ross is a valuable piece of our future and our present."

Before going on the DL, Ross was one of Washington's best pitchers, going 7-4 with a 3.49 ERA in 16 starts.

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.