The Nationals may be 19 games out of first place, but the news isn't all sorrow these days: yesterday, Stephen Strasburg took the mound in a rehab start for Single-A Hagerstown, striking out four of the five batters he sent down while giving up three hits. It was his first start on his rehab assignment, but he should be fully healthy and ready to go for 2012 assuming that there aren't any major setbacks. Here's the rest of the latest on the Nats:
- The Nationals still expect to sign all four of their top draft picks over the coming weeks even though none of them have came to agreements yet, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. First-round picks Anthony Rendon and Alex Meyer, supplemental-round pick Brian Goodwin and third-round pick Matt Purke are all expected to sign soon, making this a potentially epic draft class for the Nationals. At one point or another, Rendon, Meyer and Purke were all regarded as potential top-5 picks in the draft, although each has battled injuries and/or inconsistency over the past year or so.
- Strasburg isn't the only National on rehab in Hagerstown these days. Veteran catcher Ivan Rodriguez is also down in Hagerstown working on coming back from a right oblique strain, but reports are coming out that the catcher is struggling to get over the health hump. GM Mike Rizzo told Kilgore that Rodriguez has received an epidural shot and hit rehab has been put on hiatus for three days. There's been speculation that Rodriguez could be traded this month to a contender in need of a good catch-and-throw guy, but with the clock ticking down the Nationals are running out of time to find trade partners.