Ryan Mattheus stood on a mound for the first time since Aug. 25 Sunday morning at Nationals Park, throwing his first bullpen session since being placed on the disabled list on Aug. 26. Mattheus was pulled from the game on the 25th, the second appearance he was removed from in the span of a week, because of injury concern.
Mattheus was chipper and relaxed after the 25-pitch session, in which he threw all three of his pitches, and seemed enthusiastic about his next session, which is schedule for Tuesday, along with the strong possibility that he’ll pitch in a game again this season for Washington.
“I definitely feel a lot fresher than I did before,” Mattheus said. “The ball was coming out really good. I didn’t expect anything less. It’s been coming out good in the throwing program so, I’m happy with it.”
Mattheus was removed from an appearance on Aug. 18 when Jayson Werth saw him stretching his arm between innings and alerted pitching coach Steve McCatty and manager Davey Johnson that the right-hander might not be feeling fully healthy. He was pulled again on the 25th after both McCatty and Johnson witnessed a sharp drop in his velocity, down to about 80-90 mph when he’s usually in the mid-90s range.
Mattheus never reported any pain, admitting to a little tightness the first time he was pulled which he attributed to weight lifting. And he was a somewhat reluctant participant in the decision to put him on the disabled list, not wanting to see his rookie season end on that note. If all goes well in his bullpen sessions, scheduled for Tuesday, Thursday and a simulated game Saturday, Mattheus will get an opportunity to make that not the case.
“It was definitely the right thing,” Mattheus said. “There was something going on. I don’t know exactly what it was, I can’t pinpoint it, but the workload I’ve had this year has been a pretty good amount compared to the last two years that I’ve thrown.”
Just over two years removed from Tommy John surgery, Mattheus has thrown 54 2/3 innings this year between the minor leagues and the majors (30 in MLB). In 2010, he threw just 11 1/3 in the minor leagues after undergoing the arduous Tommy John rehab process and in 2009, he got in just 26 minor league innings before his elbow blew out.
“I didn’t really know those numbers until the trainers and McCatty brought it to my attention,” Mattheus said. “They just wanted to give me a breather, get everything feeling good again, get back out there for a couple more.”
Mattheus will play long toss on Monday and, provided he continues to feel good, will throw his next bullpen session on Tuesday in New York.
– The Nationals will send Stephen Strasburg to the mound this afternoon as they look to take the series from the Houston Astros in Strasburg’s second major league start of the season.
Here are the lineups behind him and Astros’ starter Henry Sosa:
Ian Desmond SS
Rick Ankiel CF
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Michael Morse LF
Jayson Werth RF
Danny Espinosa 2B
Chris Marrero 1B
Wilson Ramos C
Stephen Strasburg P
Jordan Schafer CF
Jimmy Paredes 3B
J.D. Martinez LF
Carlos Lee 1B
Brian Bogusevic RF
Matt Downs 2B
Clint Barmes SS
Carlos Corporan C
Henry Sosa P