Strasburg will start for Double-A Harrisburg on Thursday. It is expected to be his final rehab appearance in his comeback from Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow.
“I’ve got a spot open for him,” Johnson said.
Johnson also said left-hander Tom Milone will be recalled from Triple-A Syracuse to start against the New York Mets on Saturday. Milone will replace Jordan Zimmermann, who isn’t supposed to throw more than about 160 innings in his first full season since Tommy John surgery.
“This is the time of year you look at young players,” Johnson said. “That’s what you do at this time of year when you’re not in a pennant race. And unfortunately, we’re not in one.”
Johnson did not say how he will make room in the rotation for both pitchers.
Strasburg, the first pick in the 2009 draft, was 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 68 innings as a rookie in 2010. He proved in his last rehab start with Triple-A Syracuse on Saturday that he has regained his velocity. His fastball was clocked at 98 mph as he struck out seven in five innings. He gave up one earned run on two hits and no walks against Rochester.
It was an especially encouraging outing after Strasburg gave up five runs in 1 2-3 innings in his third rehab appearance with Class A Hagerstown.
“He was getting all beat up there in Hagerstown,” Johnson said. “I said, `Just get your work in, throw free and easy.’ And he went down and had a great outing.”
Strasburg said Saturday he is still working on his curveball but was encouraged he was “really able to pound the zone.”
“The goal right now is to go out there, feel good, feel good the next day and do it all over again in five days,” Strasburg said. “My goal right now is to go into the offseason healthy and be ready to go for spring training.”
AP freelance writer Amy Jinkner-Lloyd contributed to this report.
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