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.

Angels’ Pujols passes Mays for 5th on homer list with No. 661

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols passed Willie Mays for fifth place on the career home run list, hitting No. 661 on Friday night against Texas.

The 40-year-old Pujols connected for a solo homer with two outs in the fifth inning. He sent Wes Benjamin‘s fastball on a 1-2 count over the wall in left field.

Pujols has hit five homers this season. He tied Mays last Sunday at Colorado.

It is only Pujols’ second home run since Aug. 4. He now trails only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714) and Alex Rodriguez (696).

Pujols has one more season left on his contract with the Angels after this year.

Benjamin was the 428th different pitcher Pujols homered against in his career. Only Bonds has homered against more pitchers (449).