Reliever Henry Rodriguez, being brought along slowly by the Nationals this spring following last year's elbow surgery, is close to being cleared to pitch in games and make his case for a spot in the Opening Day bullpen.

Rodriguez threw off a bullpen mound yesterday in front of team officials and looked sharp, according to manager Davey Johnson.

The Nationals will have the right-hander throw one more bullpen session, then face hitters in a "live BP" setting before he appears in a Grapefruit League game. That's similar to the plan the club has for recently signed right-hander Chris Young.