The Washington Times - June 12, 2013, 07:47PM

DENVER — The days since Ross Detwiler last pitched in a major league game have not gone by quickly for the Washington Nationals left-hander.

Out with a right oblique injury since May 15, Detwiler has been relegated to mostly idle spectator for the past month.

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That will change Thursday when the left-hander comes off the disabled list and rejoins the Nationals rotation with a start against the Colorado Rockies. 

“It’s a big step, tomorrow,” Detwiler said Wednesday.

The pain and discomfort in the right side of his back is gone, and Detwiler got through a rehab game with Single-A Potomac just fine last weekend, but he hasn’t pitched in a major league game in a month, so it will still be a tough test. And he knows that.

“Of course [I’m excited],” Detwiler said. “I’ve been sitting out 20-[something] games. I haven’t been able to do anything. Just sitting on the sideline not contributing. We’re all here working together everyday. And once I’m held out of it, it’s pretty tough.” 

His return will be a welcome one, though, as will that of right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who is expected to come off the disabled list and start Sunday in Cleveland.

For the first time since mid-May, the Nationals will have their original starting rotation back.

“I’m looking forward to getting him back,” said manager Davey Johnson. “And then Stras real quick after that.”

As Detwiler and Strasburg sit on the disabled list, so do their 2.76 and 2.54 ERAs, respectively. The Nationals have struggled to fill their spots with that type of performances.

Nate Karns was optioned back to Double-A on Wednesday after three starts and a 7.50 ERA. Ross Ohlendorf will pitch Wednesday night for his first start in the major leagues this season. Ohlendorf will be the eighth starting pitcher the Nationals will have used this season. They used just eight in all of 2012.

“We’ve had a lot of injuries hits year,” Detwiler said. “I think I saw something the other day that since early April we haven’t had our lineup together. It’s tough. But in a long season like this you kind of have to expect something to go wrong.

“We were fortunate last year as a pitching staff to be healthy all year, but our hitters weren’t healthy all year. Hopefully we get everything out of the way and in the second half we can just look forward.”