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11 months later, Strasburg still has "it"

Aug 8, 2011, 3:38 AM EST

HAGERSTOWN, Md. — In his first minor-league rehab appearance since undergoing Tommy John surgery last September, Stephen Strasburg didn’t wait long to make a statement. His first two pitches touched 96 mph, his third 98, and after 31 throws in Hagerstown it was clear the pitcher who once captivated the entire sports world still has it.

“I went out there, and it seemed almost like once they said, ‘Play ball,’ I got that feeling back real quick,” Strasburg said. “It feels better, it honestly does. I get on top of the ball a lot better. I’m able to drive the ball down into the zone a lot better.”

With a 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 68 major-league innings last season, it’s hard to imagine a pitcher coming back significantly better. But according to Strasburg, he is in much better physical shape this season and believes he can be a better pitcher because of it.

“I have learned a lot from it. I am definitely in a lot better shape,” he said. “I think I’ve definitely grown up a lot from this. I’ve got a lot stronger not just physically but mentally as well.”

Read Chase Hughes’ full recap of Strasburg’s outing on

  1. sparks - Aug 8, 2011 at 11:16 AM

    I'd guess Friday that Strasburg is at Harrisburg. It keeps him in a home stadium. Hagerstown is on the road. And I didn't bother to check Potomac since the Nats don't trust the Phitz, too likely to get cancelled.

  2. MicheleS - Aug 8, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    My take.. He looked pretty good, the other team was being agressive at the plate. They went up their hacking and were determined to swing at anything close. The homer was tattooed. I just was getting paranoid because after every throw, I thought I saw him twitching his arm or shaking it and all I kept thinking about was that last pitch last year.. Hagerstown.. let's just say, an interesting crowd. Sat with some of the regulars and they were not pleased with Mr Harper. But I kind of get the feeling that they don't like anyone that doesn't stay with the team for a certain period of time. And I am sure his cocky/confident attitude didn't sit well with them.Also, for those of us that have issues with Nats Park – they ran out of Peanuts by about the 4th inning and it was a double header! The beer lines didn't move.It was good to see a bunch of young kids out there and have them learning to appreciate the game.

  3. Anonymous - Aug 8, 2011 at 12:04 PM

    I live in the Hagerstown area and was born and raised in DC. I recall last year on the field at a little league all the players were calling the pitcher "Strasburg". I think this was before he even threw his first pitch at Nats Park.For some reason that gave me goose bumps thinking what the future holds.

  4. sm13 - Aug 8, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    I guess we won't really know the results until we see how Stras feels today, tomorrow, and during his next start. Here's hoping his progess back from TJ continues. The thought of Stras and JZimm at the top of the rotation will keep me warm over the winter!! Go Nats!

  5. NatsLady in Chicago - Aug 8, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    Thanks for the good news and eyes-on reports. Will be going to Cubbies game tonight! More family visits, will see if I can get some of them to come with me, ha ha. Didn't see or hear the game yesterday, took a beautiful drive on River Highway in Wisconsin, no internet except sporadically in the small towns.What was up with Mattheus? Seemed like he was in, then "coaching visit to mound", got somebody out, gave up a single and he was outta there? For those worried about stats, relievers are not judged by ERA or Wins. Clipp had a bad stat day because he had a blown save and let 2 out of 2 inherited runners score. Mattheus, on the other hand, got a "hold" and HIS inherited runner didn't score (while he was in), so he got stat value and yet he made the situation WORSE (Lannan's runner advanced and Mattheus put one on). Was it a matter of Davey not trusting Mattheus or was something wrong?

  6. markfd - Aug 8, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    Definiely a positive sign on the road back for SS!

  7. WHO_CARES! - Aug 8, 2011 at 12:51 PM

    Strasmas BAHHUMBUG! Who cares until he pitches 5 or 6 innings in the majors this is a non-story, although an extrapolated line of 8 IP 12 H 4 ER 12K would be notetworthy if it were not against a SINGLE A Team…how about covering the guys who are actually playing MLB!

  8. Andrew - Aug 8, 2011 at 1:06 PM

    markfd said… Definiely a positive sign on the road back for SS! August 8, 2011 8:33 AM Definitely a lot of fun! Here are some of my photos:

  9. NatsJack in Florida - Aug 8, 2011 at 1:08 PM

    Somebody doesn't understand the interest real Nats fans have in their ace pitcher. Probably a frustrated O's fan mired in the overall free fall of the Birds organization.Even ESPN (or the Yankee/Redsox Network) and MLB network carried news on Strasburg.

  10. Andrew - Aug 8, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    NatsJack, there were 3 idiots that showed up at the game to get drunk and razz Strasburg. Sure enough Orioles guys. There were quite a few Pirates fans too that were lamenting that the Nats would have a better record than the Pirates on Sunday if the Nats won and the Pirates lost. Lets just say that it was a very eclectic crowd and most were cheering and oddly there was a lot of laughter.

  11. Mark'd - Aug 8, 2011 at 1:33 PM

    It is called jealousy. If you were under the rule of the dicktator Peter The Angelos, you would be like the frustrated jealous kid.By the way, good to see Mark Lerner there in the crowd.

  12. Mark'd - Aug 8, 2011 at 1:37 PM

    Andrew, I'm jealous of you. I see in your 3rd photo you are standing right outside of the Hagerstown clubhouse. Nice! Who is that standing with you.

  13. NatinBeantown - Aug 8, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    I apologize that this is waaaay off topic, but I've seen several posts over the past few days proclaiming the superiority of NL baseball, some informative, some entertaining.Then came the Sox-Yanks game last night, which was as low-scoring and intense as AL baseball can get.13 combined pitchers for a 3-2 game?4 hours and 15 minutes??Good God. That is not baseball. I've actually ranted at two different people in my (Boston) office this morning about that travesty.Whew. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.Now, taking stock of our 78-win pace…Good: 1) Zimm-Morse-Werth as a real heart of the order! 2) Gomes/Nix as dangerous matchups off the bench! 3) Clip/Storen! 4) Danny Espinosa smacking doubles all over Denver!Needs addressing: 1) the Mr. Hyde portion of our bullpen. I'm looking your way Mssr Rodriguez. 2) Livo's tailspin–I'm really hoping he's open to being the long man next year.

  14. David - Aug 8, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    dont look now, but Corey Brown has started to figure out AAA pitching. …

  15. Steve M. - Aug 8, 2011 at 3:15 PM

    NatinBeantown said…Needs addressing: 1) the Mr. Hyde portion of our bullpen. I'm looking your way Mssr Rodriguez. 2) Livo's tailspin–I'm really hoping he's open to being the long man next year. On the bullpen, no kidding. I saw it on the Opening Day roster but still didn't think Gaudin, Burnett, and Slaten could be that awful. HenRod is a mess as he lacks control. Matteus has been rattled and you end up with over-working Clippard and Storen. Just a bad combination.On what you call Livan's tailspin, this is who he is. He is the master of inconsistency. The crazy part is how bad the team plays in his starts. 7-17 W/L record. By now you would think his pythagorean would even out. Given his off the field legal problems and his on the field performance, I think this is the last of Livan.The team really needs a veteran competitor and could try to bring back Marquis as a Free Agent and I find Mark Buehrle the most intrguing of the pitchers that may be available. Doubt it will happen as the Top 5 players are going to be in demand by the big market teams. Looks like JZim, Stras, and LannEn and 1 Free Agent and then the #5 spot internally.The bench adn the bullpen needs to be reworked almost entirely. The bench has turned out to be a pleasant surprise almost coinciding with Stairs exiting.

  16. Steve M. - Aug 8, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    David said… dont look now, but Corey Brown has started to figure out AAA pitching. … August 8, 2011 11:02 AM Yep, he has been hitting out of the 9 hole for so long that he almost got lost in the shuffle. The power has been there as he has led Syracuse in Home Runs. Just way too much swing and miss and swinging for the fences. He has definitely been in a hot streak but that .220 batting average is going to make it tough as it is still AAA pitching. They have tried to adjust his swing which hasn't helped until recent. Definitely one to keep an eye on as Bernadina right now is the only legit OF at AAA. I am watching Komatsu in AA as their recent pickup from the Brewers. High BA, runs well, takes walks and can bat at leadoff. Now here is the intriguing part for September callups. There are only 3 outfielders on the 40 man that aren't on the 25 man and that is Bernadina, Corey Brown, and Bryce Harper. Bernie will get a September callup and you have to wonder if Corey Brown stays hot if he gets a call.Chris Marrero is the only infielder on the 40 man that is not on the 25 man. Lombardozzi will have to take the place of someone on the 40 man either by removal or status change to the 60 Day DL and the same for Strasburg. Looks like Kimball, Slaten, and LaRoche are all listed as 15 day DL right now so shouldn't be a problem making open slots.

  17. WHO_CARES! - Aug 8, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    This comment says volumes about all the fans patting themselves on the back for seeing Little Stephen try to reclaim his career:Washington Post – "Fans line up two hours before Strasburg’s outing. A crowd of more than 6,000 fell short of the attendance from the San Diego Chicken’s visit in 1983."

  18. HARPER_ROY_2012 - Aug 8, 2011 at 4:50 PM

    From Tracee Hamilton's piece that speaks about media and fan access to Strasburg and his atitude about the fans and the media, it makes me all the happier that BHarp is the way he is a genuine person who loves the game and loves the fans!

  19. Anonymous - Aug 8, 2011 at 6:28 PM

    bharp is a genuine person who loves the fans what are you smoking

  20. pahou - Aug 8, 2011 at 6:31 PM

    I also saw SS shake his right hand several times after pitches, it reminds me of what i do when my carpel tunnel syndrome is acting up and my hand is asleep

  21. Unkyd - Aug 8, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    Pity the poor OsFanTroll…. Unable to understand the excitement of genuine, budding superstardom….. Must be that old red haired stepchild thing…

  22. pahou - Aug 8, 2011 at 7:36 PM

    Andrew cool pics I know that I have several of the same only taken from opposite you as you have my wife and I in several of your photos and I am shooting also.





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