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.

Cubs to activate Craig Kimbrel on Thursday

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The Cubs will activate reliever Craig Kimbrel ahead of Thursday afternoon’s game against the Braves, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reports.

Kimbrel, 31, ended a seven-month stint in free agency, agreeing to a three-year, $43 million contract with the Cubs earlier this month. He has made four minor league appearances, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

With an aggregate 3.96 ERA entering Wednesday, the Cubs’ bullpen has been among the better bullpens in the league. Adding Kimbrel, one of the greatest closers of all-time, certainly can’t hurt and will give them some stability in save situations.