VIERA Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg played catch on flat ground Wednesday morning at Space Coast Stadium. He has increased the number of throws allowed per session, the intensity of the throws and is throwing at a distance of more than 45 feet. Strasburg didn't say how far he can throw the baseball.

Strasburg will start the season on the disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. The team is hoping he can return to action sometime after the All-Star break.

"The elbow feels good. I'm taking it one day at a time," Strasburg said. "I'm just going out there and do what I have to do each day -- completing it and moving on. I can't really say what's to come. But there is a schedule in place. What I'll do is just go out there and execute the mission.

"It is supposed to be a slow and steady progression. They don't really want the setbacks and the big improvements. They just want to go on course and eventually, I'll be there."

The young hurler enjoys Spring Training -- up to a point. There is so much down time for him in between playing catch. He also spends a lot of time watching the games when the team plays at Space Coast Stadium.

Strasburg also said it's going to be hard staying in camp while his teammates head north for the regular season. He already has talked to several of his teammates who have gone through the process.

"It's a different perspective," Strasburg said. "At the same time, I'll be able to look at the game almost like I'm a fan and just take the time to set aside what I have to accomplish in terms of Spring Training.

"I was talking to the guys who had to go through it last year. It's going to be tough. Right now, I'm part of the team, but when they head up north, it's going to be different. The days are going to be a lot longer."

Before his elbow injury, Strasburg had quickly become the ace of the Nationals' staff, going 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA in the first 12 starts of his career. He ended up ranking third on the team with 92 strikeouts in 2010. But then he was placed on the disabled list with a torn ligament in his right elbow.

Strasburg hurt his elbow on Aug. 21 against the Phillies. With the Nats leading, 5-1, and one out in the fifth inning, Strasburg was facing Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown when -- on a 1-1 pitch -- he grimaced in pain and shook his right arm.

Strasburg then motioned for the Nationals' trainer to come to the mound. Manager Jim Riggleman, pitching coach Steve McCatty and head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz came out to see what was wrong with Strasburg, who wanted to stay in the game but left a few moments later.