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08/24/11 6:54 PM ET

Strasburg takes batting practice for first time

WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg threw another uneventful bullpen session Wednesday, then picked up a bat and took batting practice for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last September.

Strasburg will throw 70 to 80 pitches in his fifth rehab start Saturday with Triple-A Syracuse, where the pitcher hits at National League-affiliated parks. Each of Strasburg's first four starts came at Class A Hagerstown or Potomac, where there is a designated hitter.

Strasburg took five swings with the pitchers and drove a few balls to the outfield gaps.

"Nobody's been letting him hit, but he's going to have to hit in Syracuse and he's going to have to hit here," said manager Davey Johnson. "He's on heavy restrictions, and I just lifted one. I imagine if he can throw a 99-mph fastball, he can swing a bat."

Johnson said Strasburg will make a couple more rehab starts and will not rejoin the Nationals before Sept. 6.

Groin strain keeps Werth out of Nats' lineup

WASHINGTON -- Jayson Werth was out of the lineup Wednesday, a day after straining his groin in a 2-0 loss to the D-backs at Nationals Park.

The Nationals' right fielder is day to day, but he downplayed the injury after Tuesday's game and manager Davey Johnson is equally unconcerned.

"He would play if we were in a pennant race or something, but there's no sense," Johnson said. "He's played through this before, but I don't see the sense in doing that now and taking a chance on it."

Johnson said Werth could be available to pinch-hit, but he has to be careful of when with a short bench. Jonny Gomes and Laynce Nix got the starting nods in left and right field, respectively.

Werth hit two times after suffering the injury in the field in Tuesday's fifth inning, but he told Johnson he would have difficulty running and scoring from second on a single.

"Hopefully, I have the winning run on base if I have to use him," Johnson said.

Pudge will again attempt to swing bat in cage

WASHINGTON -- Ivan Rodriguez will again attempt to swing a bat in the batting cage and on the field before Thursday's game at Nationals Park. Rodriguez suffered a setback every time he swung a bat since straining his right oblique taking batting practice on July 7.

He will not return from the disabled list until rosters expand Sept. 1, and he will make a few rehab appearances as a designated hitter, manager Davey Johnson said.

Steven Miller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.