Strasburg played catch Sunday, reported feeling good

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Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg was placed on the disabled list last week after inflammation was found in his throwing shoulder.  The move was mostly precautionary and his goal is to return on the first day that he is eligible, or at least right around that day.

That goal got a little more realistic on Sunday when Strasburg played catch for the first time since his shoulder issue sprang up.  He made sets of 25 throws from a distance of 60 feet and reported feeling great after the workout

The next step is a bullpen session, which should happen Tuesday.  Then he will throw a simulated game, probably on Thursday.  If all goes well, he could be back with the Nationals for their mid-week series against the Marlins that begins on August 10.

Strasburg, who turned 22 on July 20, has collected five wins in nine starts this season for a bad Nationals team.  He’s posted a 2.32 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP and 75 strikeouts in 54.1 innings.  Opposing hitters have averaged a .216/.270/.291 batting line against him.

Anibal Sanchez accepts optional assignment to Triple-A

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The Tigers announced on Monday that pitcher Anibal Sanchez has accepted an optional assignment to Triple-A Toledo. Pitcher Warwick Saupold was recalled from Toledo to take Sanchez’s roster spot.

Sanchez, 33, continued to struggle this season pitching out of the bullpen. He gave up 26 runs (21 earned) on 34 hits and nine walks with 22 strikeouts in 21 innings. Nine of those 34 hits were home runs. Sanchez finished the 2015 season with a 4.99 ERA and last season with a 5.87 ERA, so he’s had a rough go of it in recent years.

The decision to go to Triple-A was Sanchez’s, Anthony Fenech of the Free Press reports. Sanchez wants to be stretched out as a starting pitcher again.

Braves release James Loney

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Just a few days after inking him to a minor league deal, the Braves have released first baseman James Loney, the team announced on Monday. Loney became expendable when the Braves acquired Matt Adams from the Cardinals on Saturday as a replacement for the injured Freddie Freeman.

Loney, 33, appeared in two games at Triple-A Gwinnett. He had one hit, a single, and one walk in eight plate appearances.

Loney will likely have to wait for another team to deal with an injured first baseman or DH before he can secure another contract.