Strasburg: I didn't feel qualified to be All-Star
Phenom hopes to be deserving of spot on roster someday
WASHINGTON -- Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg said before Tuesday's game against the Padres he was not All-Star worthy because he was not with the team long enough to be considered.
Strasburg joined Washington on June 8 for his Major League debut against the Pirates. He has been dominating since that day, going 2-2 with a 2.45 ERA and 53 strikeouts, which ranks second on the team.
"I have six starts [in the Major Leagues]," Strasburg said. "It didn't matter what I was going to do. I didn't feel I was qualified to make the team, No. 1, based on the experience that I have. I'm sure I'll have an opportunity down the road. It was never a goal of mine.
"You look at the guys that are going to the All-Star Game and look at the years they have had, they have done that from Opening Day. I haven't been here since Opening Day. They deserve it. Hopefully, someday, I'll deserve it, too."
If he had made the team, Strasburg said it would have been a tough decision for him to go to Anaheim, but he felt all along that he was never going to be an All-Star this year.
"Right now, I would much rather take this team to a World Series, before making an All-Star team, to be quite honest," he said.
Strasburg, who will make his last start of the first half on Friday, said he is not ready for a break. He has kept his body in shape and is looking to keep pitching.
Desmond bounces back with short memory
WASHINGTON -- Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond may be a rookie, but one thing is certain: He doesn't let mistakes bother him. He proved it during a 6-5 victory over the Padres on Tuesday night at Nationals Park.
Take the eighth inning: With the bases loaded and one out, left-hander Sean Burnett induced Oscar Salazar to hit what looked like a perfect double-play ball to second baseman Cristian Guzman, who threw the ball to Desmond for the force. But Desmond threw the ball away, allowing Chase Headley to score the fifth run of the game and tying the score on Desmond's 21st error of the season.
"That's just me. I hate to say it, but I'm aggressive," Desmond said. "It's really hard for me to say, 'No, don't make the play.' That's something I have to learn up here. I have to make better decisions, I guess. I handled the feed perfectly fine. The throw was wrong."
But Desmond made up for it in the top of the ninth inning. With a runner on first and closer Matt Capps on the mound, Scott Hairston doubled to left field. Outfielder Josh Willingham threw the ball to Desmond, who then relayed a perfect strike to catcher Ivan Rodriguez, nailing Jerry Hairston at the plate.
Asked what he will recall most from the game -- the error or the great throw he made to the plate -- Desmond said he will remember the home run he hit in the fifth inning to give the Nationals a 5-2 lead.
"I really don't worry about the error. It was an aggressive play," Desmond said.
Gwynn happy to see Strasburg
WASHINGTON -- Hall of Famer and Padres broadcaster Tony Gwynn said he is not surprised that Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg has been a dominant pitcher in the Major Leagues. Gwynn should know. He coached Strasburg for three years when both were at San Diego State University.
Strasburg was dominating there, too, going 22-7 with a 1.59 ERA in 52 games. What has surprised Gwynn, however, is how Strasburg has handled all the media attention.
"Every game has been on national TV. Everybody wants five minutes, 10 minutes, including myself," Gwynn said. "We are trying to figure out what makes this kid tick. Having been around him longer than all the other media guys, you just kind of know the 'it' quality that he has.
"You couldn't be prouder of the way he has handled stuff. I don't know how he does it. He does it and is very respectful of everybody. He could be frustrated because the Nationals haven't scored a lot of runs for him. He has been unbelievable."
Gwynn also said reporters are out of line when they compare him to basketball great Michel Jordan, who received a lot of media attention in the 1980s and '90s.
"You have to earn that title. In baseball, we haven't seen anything like it, so we have to look somewhere else where it might be similar," Gwynn said. "I'm sure when Michael came into the NBA, I'm sure he didn't have as much buzz as Stephen has. I think as Stephen goes along, it's hard to say this, but he is going to get better."
After the Nationals finished batting practice, there was Strasburg jogging toward Gwynn. They shared a big bear hug, which made Gwynn feel good. At first, Gwynn thought Strasburg would not come his way, because Gwynn was wearing his media badge. Like many in the media, Gwynn is trying to get one-on-one time with his pupil. Gwynn didn't say if he was getting the interview.