DENVER -- Ross Detwiler feels like he has fully recovered from an oblique strain, but he's hesitant to say the nagging injury is completely behind him.
Everything went smoothly for Detwiler in a rehab start with Class A Potomac on Saturday, but he knows a big league game is a different beast. Only after making his start Thursday -- his first since May 15 -- in the series finale in Colorado will he have cleared the most important hurdle.
"I'll let you know after tomorrow's game," Detwiler said when asked how it feels to have the injury behind him. "Still a big step tomorrow, so we'll see."
The southpaw pitched three innings against the Dodgers in his last start before leaving with the oblique strain, but appeared ready to return to the rotation in the end of the May. However, just two days ahead of a May 28 start, he didn't feel right and the Nationals placed him on the 15-day disabled list.
The extended delay was not a major surprise, as oblique injuries are notorious for knocking out ballplayers for lengthy stretches.
When Detwiler returns, he will have sat out 24 games, and he's more than ready to get back on a big league mound.
"I haven't been able to do anything," Detwiler said. "I've just been sitting on the sideline not contributing at all. We're all here working together every day in Spring Training and everything, and then once I'm held out of it, it's pretty tough."
Washington has not had its Opening Day lineup completely healthy since April 14, but will receive a major boost with the addition of Detwiler and Stephen Strasburg, who looks likely to return from a lat strain on Sunday. Before the injury, Detwiler was off to one of the better starts of his career, with a 2.76 ERA through 45 2/3 innings.
"It's always tough, but in a long season like this,you kind of have to expect something to go wrong," Detwiler said. "We were fortunate enough last year, as a pitching staff, to be healthy all year, but our hitters weren't healthy all year.
"Hopefully we get everything out of the way and in the second half we can just look forward and not have to worry about injuries."
Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.