May 23, 2011, 10:23 PM EDT
Stephen Strasburg has crossed another major milestone in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
The Nationals right-hander threw off a bullpen mound today in Viera, Fla., for the first time since having reconstructive surgery on his elbow in September.
Strasburg, who had previously only thrown long toss off flat ground, broke the news on Twitter, posting: “First bullpen in the books. Felt great! Hopefully time will speed up now!”
Strasburg’s first bullpen session comes about 8 1/2 months after his surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament and leaves open the possibility of him returning to pitch in the majors this season. Recovery time for pitchers who had the Tommy John procedure is typically 12-to-18 months, so if Strasburg remains on schedule, he could return to make a handful of starts in September.
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