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02/27/10 6:23 PM ET

Strasburg tosses first live batting practice

Teammates impressed with top pick's 'heavy' two-seamer

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg threw live batting practice on Saturday, tossing more than 35 pitches in 12 minutes.

Outfielders Roger Bernadina and Willy Taveras, infielder Eric Bruntlett and catcher Derek Norris were all in the batting cage when Strasburg, 21, was on the mound, but they didn't swing the bat. The hitters were just tracking pitches.

The way Norris was talking about Strasburg, it looked like the hitters would have had problems swinging the bats anyway. The righty has a two-seam fastball that appears like it will be hard to hit.

"That was actually my first time getting in the box against him. I caught him a few times," Norris said. "Being in the box is a completely different thing. A lot of the pitches he threw were real heavy. His two-seamer is real heavy. I thought it was incredible behind the plate, but it's more difficult even standing in the box. He is going to be something special."

Catcher Devin Ivany caught Strasburg in the bullpen and during batting practice. Ivany said Strasburg was consistent during both sessions.

"He has effortless stuff," Ivany said. "It comes out pretty good. It's a heavy ball and it's going to be tough to hit. The thing that I saw about him is, usually the young guys have the control of the straight stuff, but he started moving the ball with the two-seamer and curveball. He was able to control that, too. It's put him ahead of the curve."

The Nationals have tentatively scheduled Strasburg to make his Spring Training debut on March 9 against the Tigers at Space Coast Stadium.

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.

"It's exciting," Strasburg said. "It's going to be the first outing of Spring Training. I'm ready for it. 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."

Asked what he still needs to work on, Strasburg said, "It's continually working hard in the weight room as long as you push yourself to the max every single day. I have to prepare mentally every single day. That's the real important thing. You can't take days off mentally."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.