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.

A-Rod to join ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth

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Alex Rodriguez’s post-retirement renaissance continues apace. After starring as a studio host for Fox’s playoff coverage over the past couple of years, A-Rod is about to be named to, arguably, televised baseball’s top job: color commentary in ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth.

Michael McCarthy of The Sporting News is hearing that ESPN is going to give the gig, vacated by Aaron Boone by virtue of his hiring by the Yankees, to Rodriguez. There he’ll join Jessica Mendoza and whoever they get to replace play-by-play man Dan Shulman, who chose to step back from the Sunday night job following last season. This, by the way, marks the second time A-Rod has taken over Aaron Boone’s job given that he replaced Boone at third base for the Yankees in 2004.

The twist: A-Rod is likely to keep his Fox postseason job too. While some broadcasters work for multiple networks, it’s pretty rare for Fox to allow its talents to work for competitors like that. Apparently they believe keeping A-Rod — who five years ago was one of the most despised figures in baseball — is worth it. What a difference a few years makes.

In other news, Alex Rodriguez is likely to be shunned mightily by the current crop of BBWAA voters when he hits the Hall of Fame ballot in a couple of years. At the rate he’s going, though, their successors will put him in Cooperstown via the Ford Frick Award sometime in the 2040s.