Stephen Strasburg on track to return Tuesday

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While we’re on the subject of “next big things,” Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider reports that Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to return from the disabled list next Tuesday against the Marlins.

Strasburg, who was placed on the disabled list last week with shoulder stiffness, threw a 25-pitch bullpen session Tuesday. He hurled fastballs, curveballs and changeups at full velocity and was “letting it go,” according to Nationals trainer Lee Kuntz.

He’ll still need to complete a simulated game Thursday and another bullpen session Saturday, but Nationals manager Jim Riggelman is very optimistic that he will be available Tuesday, as scheduled.

“It’s only tentative if he doesn’t respond 100 percent to the workload,”
Manager Jim Riggleman said. “We’re anticipating everything will go fine
and he can pitch Tuesday. But if there’s the slightest something to be
cautious about, we’ll back off from that.”

I follow statistics as much as any other baseball geek, but Zuckerman tweeted something pretty interesting in its sheer meaninglessness earlier this afternoon:

Craziest (and least meaningful) stat ever: With Strasburg on 25-man roster, Nats are 15-26. Without him, they’re 32-33.

Just your classic case of coincidental sucking, I’m sure.  

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.