The Washington Times - May 18, 2011, 06:27PM

NEW YORK — Updates galore for you here from a rainy Citi Field.

First let’s start with the weather: The Natioanls pitchers have been out on the field playing catch and doing conditioning for the past 15-20 minutes as the rain has finally let up. Another storm, though, is expected to hit around 7 p.m. Stay tuned here and follow me on twitter @acomak for the latest updates, weather or otherwise.


On to the Nationals news:

– Rick Ankiel left for Florida today to continue the conditioning he’d been doing the past few weeks with the team as well as continue taking batting practice in the warmer weather. The Nationals expect Ankiel to be ready to progress to a minor league rehab assignment sometime in the next few days, thus officially beginning the clock on when they’ll need to return him to the active roster. 

You can read the full story on what Ankiel’s activation will mean for the rest of the Nationals’ outfielders on the main site.

– Stephen Strasburg saw an orthopedic surgeon in D.C. on Tuesday, a routine checkup, general manager Mike Rizzo said, and all is going well with his rehab. Strasburg will begin throwing off a mound “any day now” according to Rizzo, which would be the next significant step in his rehab from Tommy John Ligament Reconstruction surgery. 

– Ryan Zimmerman is not with the team on their current road trip through New York, Baltimore and Milwaukee as he continues his rehab from May 3 surgery to repair a torn rectus muscle in his abdomen. Zimmerman, who began jogging at the end of last week, will soon head to Florida as well to continue the conditioning process he’s been working through.

The decision to send Zimmerman to Florida is based mainly on weather — which would be better in Florida than in the Northeast — but all signs indicate that he remains on schedule with his rehab process.

– Right-hander Chien-Ming Wang remains in Florida at extended spring training, continuing to build up arm strength, according to Rizzo. Wang has been pitching in extended spring training games, throwing a maximum of 65 pitches. 

Most importantly, Rizzo said, he’s been pain free. There is still no timetable for when the Nationals would consider sending him on a rehab assignment. 

– Left-hander Oliver Perez was scheduled to make his first minor league start of the season for the Nationals with Double-A Harrisburg tonight, but that game was rained out. Perez will start the first game of a doubleheader tomorow. Rizzo said Perez’s velocity has increased from low 80s when the Nationals first signed him to a minor league deal in spring training, to mid-to-high-80s, and “touching 90.”

As for what the Nationals are expecting to see out of Perez, who the Mets are paying $12 million this year?

“We just want to see where he’s at in his, I guess, his rehabilitation,” Rizzo said. “We want to see where his arm slot is, where his velocity is, where his stuff is and that’s what we’ve been working on down at spring training. He’s had flashes of having some good major league stuff and then he’ll relapse into having just O.K. stuff. We want to see consistency of his delivery, holding his delivery together, consistency of his command and the consistency of his velocity and his stuff with his other pitches.”