Anticipation high for Strasburg's start
Nats righty pitching Sunday in scoreless debut follow-up
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- All eyes will be on Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who will make his second start of the exhibition season against the Cardinals at Space Coast Stadium on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. ET, available on Gameday Audio.
Strasburg, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, will face regulars such as Felipe Lopez, Colby Rasmus, Yadier Molina and Skip Schumaker, while ace Adam Wainwright takes the mound for St. Louis.
Strasburg, 21, is expected to pitch three innings in the game. Tickets are available at nationals.com.
"He is unbelievable to watch," teammate Wil Nieves said about Strasburg. "Everybody is looking forward every fifth day to see that kid pitch. I want to see the same thing that he did the last time. He is probably going to do better, because he was nervous the last time."
This past Tuesday, Strasburg made his Spring Training debut and pitched two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out two batters in the Nats' 9-4 loss to the Tigers. Although he was successful, Strasburg told MLB.com recently there's still room for improvement. He expects to be more relaxed.
"I had a lot of adrenaline going. I really wasn't able to execute pitches the way I wanted to," Strasburg said. "I'll keep going with I've been working on and I will be a lot more relaxed. ... I got my feet wet. I know what it feels like to go out there. I know what it's like to face guys I watched on TV growing up. I have that feeling now, so I just want to build on it."
Nieves he would like to see Strasburg throw a lot more offspeed pitches than he did the last time.
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"He threw more fastballs, because we didn't have too many opportunities to throw the other pitches," Nieves said. "I want to see a little bit more offspeed pitches just to see the hitters off balance. I'm looking forward to that."
Whenever Strasburg pitches, there's a lot of members of the media on hand. Sunday will be no different. Strasburg is amazed by all the attention he gets and has been accommodating to reporters all spring.
"So many of the questions were about the anticipation or what I expect myself to be," Strasburg said. "That's really a hard thing for me to talk about, because I really don't know. I would say the easiest thing to talk about is what happens on the field. I can talk about baseball all day, whether it's good or bad."
After pitching against the Cardinals, what's next for Strasburg? Manager Jim Riggleman indicated the Strasburg could make one more start before the Nationals decide to send him to Minor League camp or keep him in the big leagues.
"If somebody asked, 'Do you want him to throw again?' I would say, 'Yeah.' But it's an organizational decision," Riggleman said. "I can make an assumption with Jason Marquis and John Lannan. I can't make too many assumptions [with Strasburg]."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.