Strasburg debuts Tuesday on MLB.TV
Righty will face Tigers, expected to hurl two frames
VIERA, Fla. -- The moment is finally here. Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to make his much-anticipated Spring Training debut against the Tigers on Tuesday at Space Coast Stadium at 1:05 p.m. ET on MLB.TV.
Strasburg, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, is expected to pitch two innings or throw 30 to 40 pitches. Tickets are still available at Nationals.com.
Strasburg will face a tough Tigers lineup that will feature Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Guillen, Austin Jackson and Magglio Ordonez.
"I'm anxious to see him," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I like seeing good young players."
Tigers outfielder Casper Wells will also be there. If he faces Strasburg, it could be a tough matchup. The two faced each other in the Arizona Fall League, with Casper going deep off Strasburg.
"He throws easy and he throws fluidly," Wells said. "He throws an easy upper-90s [fastball]. Your eyes see it, but your hands and your body don't catch up as quickly as other people, especially now at the beginning of Spring Training. If I get to face him, hopefully my eyes and my body will catch up."
Strasburg declined to talk about his first spring outing on Monday. He doesn't like to talk to the media a day before an outing. But two weeks ago, Strasburg told MLB.com how excited he was to pitch in his first spring game.
"I'm ready for it," Strasburg said. "I'm excited to go out there and face some hitters in a game. I still have some work to do and want to keep working hard up to that outing and for the entire season.
"Not one outing is going to make a difference. This is something I want to do as a career. You are going to take your beatings every now and then. Hopefully, more times than not, you go out there and get the job done."
There is a lot of hype when it comes to Strasburg and for good reason. He went 13-1 with a 1.32 ERA in 15 starts at San Diego State University en route to being named the 2009 Golden Spikes Award winner. He struck out 195 and walked just 19 in 109 innings.
Since Strasburg signed a four-year, $15.1 million contract with Washington, all eyes have been on him, whether it's pitching in the AFL or throwing batting practice. Despite all the hype, teammates say he doesn't let it go to his head.
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Teammate Scott Olsen is one who is excited to watch Strasburg pitch. Olsen expects a lot of members of the media to surround Strasburg after he throws his two innings.
"I think everybody here is excited and anxious to see what he brings to the table," Olsen said. "Having the media here is well-deserved. He pitched well enough in college and has the status buildup that he deserves it. You hope that something like that doesn't go to his head. But the type of person he has shown to be in the first couple of weeks, you don't seem to worry about that at all.
"He understands that this is his first big league camp. There are certain ways a rookie in camp has to go about doing things, and he follows it. He is not caught up in a million-dollar baby syndrome that a lot of these kids -- first- and second-round -- have, which is good. He is down to earth. His parents and his coaches did a fantastic job. He has been nothing but nice. He listens well to older guys."
Pitching coach Steve McCatty has already given advice to Strasburg before the righty pitches in his first Spring Training game. McCatty told Strasburg not to feel pressured to earn his money in his first outing.
"I told him, 'Pitch like you can and don't worry about pleasing everybody else.'" McCatty told Strasburg. "I'm sure he is going to be out there and the juices will be flowing. I'm excited."
Said third baseman Ryan Zimmerman: "He doesn't look like the type of guy to be nervous. He will be more excited. It's good to be nervous. It's not good to be scared. If you are nervous, it obviously means something to him."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. Jason Beck contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.