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.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.