Stephen Strasburg says his rehabilitation is "on track" and he hopes to start throwing a few weeks before spring training.

"It's going great right now," the Washington Nationals righthander said yesterday during a telephone conference call from San Diego. "I've been making big strides."

Strasburg's sensational rookie season was cut short by reconstructive elbow surgery in September. He said he's getting physical therapy three times a week, in sessions of 2 to 3 hours, and that he'll emerge "probably in a lot better shape" than he ever was.

Strasburg said he will see his doctor after the holidays to get an indication of when he can start throwing. He'll continue to work out near his San Diego home, hoping to get in a few weeks of throwing before rejoining the Nationals when pitchers and catchers report for spring training in February.

Strasburg went 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 12 starts this year, including 14 strikeouts in his major league debut.

In other Nationals news, outfielder Rick Ankiel has agreed to a $1.5 million, 1-year contract. The 30-year-old lefthanded hitter batted .232 with six homers and 24 RBI this year with Kansas City and Atlanta.


* Pete Rose Jr., the son of the career hits leader who is banned from baseball, will run a rookie league team of the Chicago White Sox.

Rose Jr. played 21 seasons of minor league baseball with several organizations, including the White Sox. He will run the Bristol, Va., affiliate in the Appalachian League.

In other White Sox news, reliever Jesse Crain, who has played his entire 7-year career for Minnesota, signed a 3-year, $13 million contract.

* Righthander Ricky Nolasco has agreed to 3-year, $26.5 million contract to remain with the Florida Marlins, a person familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press.

* Reliever Luis Vizcaino has agreed to a minor league contract with the New York Yankees, a source told the AP.

* Free agent infielder Bill Hall, who played for Boston last season, has finalized a $3.25 million, 1-year contract with Houston that includes a mutual option for 2012.

* The San Diego Padres have finalized their $11.5 million, 2-year contract with second baseman Orlando Hudson, who played last season for Minnesota.