Stephen Strasburg to make rehab debut Sunday at Single-A

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As expected, Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg made it through a side session Thursday in Viera, Florida and has been cleared to make his first minor league rehab start on Sunday with Single-A Hagerstown. This according to Adam Kilgore, beat writer for the Washington Post.

Strasburg underwent Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last September after beginning his major league career with a shiny 2.91 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 92/17 K/BB ratio over his first 68 innings.

The 23-year-old is hoping to make a couple of starts in the big leagues before the end of the 2011 campaign, and it seems like the Nats’ higher-ups are open to that plan. Strasburg won’t be back to 100 percent health, however, until spring training next February.

Report: Mariners sign Juan Nicasio to a two-year deal

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Mariners have signed pitcher Juan Nicasio to a two-year contract, pending a physical.

Nicasio, 31, spent last season with the Pirates, Phillies, and Cardinals, putting up an aggregate 2.61 ERA with a 72/20 K/BB ratio in 72 1/3 innings. He appeared in 76 games, leading the National League.

Nicasio will help bolster the Mariners’ bullpen behind closer Edwin Diaz. It’s not known exactly what role he’ll have but it seems reasonable to assume he’ll handle mostly the seventh inning while Nick Vincent will set up for Diaz. Nicasio does have plenty of starting experience so he could also spot start in a pinch.