The climb continues for Stephen Strasburg.
According to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com, the rehabbing right-hander allowed two runs (one earned) over three innings tonight in his latest minor league rehab start with Class A Hagerstown.
Strasburg, who is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, gave up two hits while striking out six, walking one and hitting a batter. He topped out at 98 mph on the radar gun and was pulled after throwing 40 out of 60 pitches for strikes.
Strasburg struggled in his previous start with Class A Hagerstown last Wednesday, so while he wasn’t perfect tonight, this outing was certainly a step in the right direction. The 23-year-old is tentatively scheduled to make his fifth rehab start Saturday, either with High-A Potomac or Triple-A Syracuse. While his 30-day rehab clock expires on September 6, it’s possible he could join the Nationals’ rotation as soon as September 2 against the Mets.
Free agent middle infielder Danny Espinosa signed a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays, the team announced Saturday. The deal includes an invite to spring training, where Espinosa is scheduled for his first split-squad game against the Orioles this afternoon.
Espinosa, 30, was inked to another minor-league deal with the Yankees in January. The veteran infielder was competing for an infield job until the team picked up second baseman Neil Walker on a one-year, $4 million deal last Monday. Prior to his release, he slashed .160/.276/.320 with one home run through his first 12 games with the Yankees this spring. He didn’t fare much better in the majors last year, either, batting a cumulative .173/.245/.278 with six home runs and a .523 OPS in 295 PA for the Mariners and Rays.
Blue Jays starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is still dealing with a bone spur in his heel and has officially been ruled out for Opening Day, which could clear a path for Espinosa to claim a starting role in Toronto. Of course, he won’t be the only candidate under consideration — Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz are still in the mix as well, though no final decision appears to be made just yet.