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05/18/11 7:14 PM ET

Strasburg to pitch off mound soon

NEW YORK -- Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg was in Washington on Tuesday to see an orthopedist. It was a routine checkup on his right elbow, which was found to be sound.

The next step is to pitch off the mound, and general manager Mike Rizzo said that will happen "any day." The last time Strasburg threw off the mound was the day he hurt his right elbow against the Phillies last August. He had Tommy John surgery the next month.

Strasburg is hoping that that he can pitch in a big league game by September, though there is no official timetable for his return.

Rizzo: Harper 'not ready to play in big leagues'

NEW YORK -- When he was sent to Minor League camp during Spring Training, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper said he would be in the big leagues by July. However, general manager Mike Rizzo told the local media Wednesday that Harper will not play in the Majors this year.

Harper, the first overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, is currently playing for Class A Hagerstown. In 36 games, Harper is hitting .366 with nine home runs and 31 RBIs. He is playing mostly right field, though he has seen action in center field and will see time in left field soon, according to Rizzo.

If he does get promoted, Harper most likely will be headed to Class A Potomac. There isn't a timetable on when the promotion will happen.

"We feel that his development is not ready to play in the big leagues. The moment he is ready, and when we believe he is ready, he'll be in the big leagues," Rizzo said about Harper. "The next step is the most important decision we have to make. Once he has graduated from that step, we'll take it to the next level."

In order to get the promotion to the next level, Harper must continue to show that he can make adjustments against left-handed pitching, and improve his defensive and baserunning skills.

"He is in the process of working on it and he is doing great," Rizzo said. "He is at the point where he is really playing well there. I think a lot of his development stems on the defensive side in the outfield."

Ankiel headed to Florida to rehab

NEW YORK -- Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman said that outfielder Rick Ankiel went to Viera, Fla., to participate in extended spring training games at the Nationals' Spring Training complex.

Ankiel will be there for a few days and then start his rehab assignment for one of the Minor League affiliates.

Once Ankiel comes back, the Nationals have to make a decision on who plays every day in left and center field. Roger Bernadina will continue to play every day. It's just a matter of where he plays. Bernadina is the currently the club's only legitimate leadoff hitter.

Laynce Nix has made it difficult for the club because he is having a solid season, hitting .310 with five home runs and 16 RBIs. He entered the season as a pinch-hitting specialist, but found himself playing often after Mike Morse slumped.

There is a possibility that Nix and Morse could platoon in left field. Ankiel may also platoon with Morse in left field. A decision will not be made until Ankiel is activated from the disabled list.

Zimmermann is OK with being skipped

NEW YORK -- With the rainout on Tuesday, the Nationals decided to skip right-hander Jordan Zimmermann and not let him pitch until Sunday against the Orioles.

Zimmermann is not injured, but he is on an innings limit this season, being scheduled to pitch 150 to 160 innings. Zimmermann, who has pitched 48 innings thus far, said he is OK with the decision.

"I feel fine with whatever decision they make," he said. "It's probably better to get skipped now than toward the end of the season. If we are in the race or right where we need to be to make a push at the end of the season, that's the time I really don't want to be shut down. I want to be able to pitch, still have innings left and help the team out."

Worth noting

Right-hander Chien-Ming Wang [shoulder] continues to pitch in extended spring training games, throwing as many as 65 pitches in an outing. There isn't a timetable on when he will start a rehab assignment. ... Left-handed Oliver Perez is expected to join Double-A Harrisburg on Wednesday. His fastball has been consistently clocked in the high 80s, while sometimes hitting 90.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.