Stephen Strasburg nearly ready to begin throwing off mound

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Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty provided an update Wednesday afternoon in the Washington Post on rehabbing right-hander Stephen Strasburg:

“Everything is going along fine,” said McCatty. “I know he’s close to throwing off the mound. I’m sure he’s getting close to it. I know there were some discussions about it. It will be shortly. Everything has been going fine. I know he’s bored. I know he’s probably going nuts. But he’s sticking with it.”

Strasburg, of course, underwent Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery in early September of last season. Some pitchers have been able to return from the procedure in around 12 months, but it seems likely that the Nationals will play it safe with their 22-year-old phenom and keep him sidelined until the opening of the 2012 regular season.

Strasburg registered a shiny 2.91 ERA and struck out 92 batters in just 68 innings as a first-year major league pitcher in 2010. All signs point to him becoming a long-term ace in the nation’s capital.

Another young fan was struck by a foul ball, this time at Guaranteed Rate Field

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ESPN reports via the Associated Press that a young boy was struck by a line drive foul ball but was not seriously injured during Sunday afternoon’s game against the Royals. The boy and a woman were escorted by a first aid crew to the concourse area and the boy was later eating ice cream in a luxury suite.

A woman was struck in the face by a foul ball also on the first base side at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday, but she didn’t request medical assistance.

Last week, a young fan at Yankee Stadium was hit by a line drive foul ball, which motivated several teams to commit to extending protective netting at their ballparks. The Yankees, strangely, were not among them. Nor were the White Sox.

Diamondbacks clinch NL Wild Card

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Losses by the Cardinals to the Pirates and the Brewers to the Cubs on Sunday clinched an NL Wild Card berth for the Diamondbacks. Their walk-off, 3-2 win over the Marlins earned them hosting rights for the Wild Card game.

The D-Backs, now 90-66, trailed the Marlins 2-1 going into the bottom of the eighth. Daniel Descalso tied the game at two apiece with an RBI single off of Brad Ziegler. Second half hero J.D. Martinez secured the win with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth against Javy Guerra.

The Rockies beat the Padres on Sunday to increase their lead over the Brewers (+2) and Cardinals (+2.5) for the second Wild Card slot. One of these three teams will visit Arizona for the Wild Card game.

The Diamondbacks are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011, when they lost the Division Series in five games to the Brewers.