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Strasburg keeps it in the fairway

Mar 21, 2012, 2:18 AM EDT

US Presswire photo
Stephen Strasburg allowed one run over five strong innings tonight.

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Leave it to Davey Johnson — a man who earlier in the day bragged about the time he was invited by former Mets owner Nelson Doubleday to play a round at Augusta National — to summarize Stephen Strasburg's outing with a golf analogy.

"He was hitting it in the fairway today," Johnson said, "instead of 400 yards into the rough."

Indeed, six days removed from a ragged spring training start in which he admittedly tried too hard to overpower the Braves lineup, Strasburg tonight dialed it down a notch. He left his driver in the bag, pulled out a 3-wood instead and proceeded to carve up the Mets' "A" lineup for five strong innings.

His fastball registered a mere 94-95 mph in the early going before topping out at 97 mph later in the outing. Most importantly, the Nationals right-hander emerged from an 85-pitch outingRead more »

  1. hmmm... - Mar 21, 2012 at 2:45 AM

    hot damn.

  2. Anonymous - Mar 21, 2012 at 2:57 AM

    SteveM a right handed outfielder seems silly when you've already got Morse, Werth, Carroll, DeRosa and perhaps even Lombardozzi? And Jason Michaels is still in camp? Now, a left-hander who can rake off the bench and take over for LaRoche? That would seem like the daily special where the Nats are concerned. Its not like Ankiel and Bernadina are going to do much offensively given past history.You might claim they are hedging their bets because of Morse … I would instead wonder if they aren't hedging against the possibility that Werth is in a definite decline moving toward a death spiral offensively. He and LaRoche who is close to the same age.

  3. A DC Wonk - Mar 21, 2012 at 3:23 AM

    Fore!!!

  4. A DC Wonk - Mar 21, 2012 at 3:23 AM

    OK, it's still spring training. Still working on my timing ;-)

  5. realdealnats - Mar 21, 2012 at 3:29 AM

    Never want to be the next team Strasburg faces after a bad outting.

  6. Anonymous - Mar 21, 2012 at 3:37 AM

    Get excited, my friends, we're gonna get us a boatload of great Strasmas presents this year!!Corky

  7. A DC Wonk - Mar 21, 2012 at 3:51 AM

    How awesome is a guy who's 5 IP and 1 ER is considered a bad outing?

  8. A DC Wonk - Mar 21, 2012 at 3:53 AM

    Oh, you meant last outing.In the words of Emily Litella: never mind.I'm goin' to bed.

  9. Nattydread - Mar 21, 2012 at 4:27 AM

    Great for Strasburg! Me, I'm worried about the offense. 2BB, 8ks, 2 GIDP, 1 for for RISP, no runs, no XBH. Meaningless stats, but we did see a lot of that during the season last year. Somebody tell Bryce to get his skates on. We're gonna need a bat.

  10. Will - Mar 21, 2012 at 8:34 AM

    Nattydread,We were missing our #3, 4, 5 and 6 batters. It's to be expected when you have 3 of 8 of your regulars playing, especially when the Mets fielded their starting lineup minus Wright.

  11. gonatsgo - Mar 21, 2012 at 10:25 AM

    Man – he is one intense dude….

  12. natsfan1a - Mar 21, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    So, that's a good thing, right? (Not really into golf and don't speak the lingo.)"He was hitting it in the fairway today," Johnson said, "instead of 400 yards into the rough."Wendelstedt is already in midseason form."Plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt, though, called the pitch a ball, prolonging the at-bat and setting the stage for Duda to homer moments later."

  13. JaneB - Mar 21, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    It seems to me like they would put in Strasburg for HOME opening day. Or is that only a big deal to the fans?

  14. Steady Eddie - Mar 21, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    JaneB –Considering the #2 pitcher will likely do the home opener, and #2 now seems to be Gio who's looked pretty dominating himself, and makes a nice intro to the home fans, that's probably not a bad alternative.

  15. Gonat - Mar 21, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    Davey is a quote machine. For us golfers, it makes a lot of sense!The 1 run Stras gave up sounded like a frustration pitch that Duda hit out. Stras doesn't get the Strike 3 call and then gives up the HR.I've seen that before with JZim and Lannan. Its one area the Nats pitchers need to work on that is a maturity thing.

  16. MicheleS - Mar 21, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    JaneB.. I wish we could have Stasburg on the bobble head Saturday game. That would be fun. But I think they might give the home opener to Gio… you know, so we can develop some love for him (not that we aren't warming up to him now)Missed last night's .game thread, but sooo glad Mark is back there – Your Ian/Walk comment had me rolling!On the bright side – Fedex will be delivering my tickets today! (missed them yesterday – shucks).Crazy enough that I might actually invest in a Stras Jersey (to go with my Werth and Espinosa Rookie jersey) Already have an RZim in the family as well. I love super crazy intense pitchers.

  17. sjm308 - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    Totally off topic on this question BUT, lets say Harper is a quick study and learns CF. Lets also say that Perez or Brown or even Goodwin also pick it up well. IF we don't need a CF and we have what I would guess is a decent amount of money or prospects to throw at teams. What would be the next area/postion Rizzo would look at. I realize the Desmond hate but we still have Espinosa & Lombo for those people. Morse should slide over to First (even though I am hoping LaRoche crushes this year and we extend him). Would we add even more pitching? That is where I would go.Just a thought

  18. gonatsgo - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    Seems like we have several players in that category,( intensity) — espi, for one. By the way – do that nats have a sports psychologist on retainer?

  19. Anonymous - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    Question about rotations. So, we open at Chicago on a Thursday and then the next day (Friday) they have off. So, does the fifth starter get skipped, and Strasburg pitches again on Tues April 10th at NYM (on typical 4 days rest), or does the 5th starter not get skipped and Stras pitches again on Wed April 11th (on atypical 5 days rest)?I say atypical for the latter, but is it really? The general axiom is that starters pitch every 5th day, but there must be plenty of off days during the season, just like there will be on the Friday following opening day. So unless 5th starters routinely get skipped in the rotation, it seems to me like starters don't really pitch every 5th day.

  20. natsfan1a - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    I don't know how the contract is structured, but the Nats do have this guy on board.gonatsgo said… Seems like we have several players in that category,( intensity) — espi, for one. By the way – do that nats have a sports psychologist on retainer? March 21, 2012 8:09 AM

  21. sm13 - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    DC's greatest baseball rivalry is now in full gear. Ladsen has been saying for weeks that Gio will.start opening day. Now, Mark is on the record predicting that Stras will toss the first pitch. I'm lining up with Mark in this epic battle, how about you?

  22. Anonymous - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    "there must be plenty of off days during the season"Only if you consider 20 days, including four for the All-Star break, "plenty of days" over a six month period.

  23. MicheleS - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    gonatsgo.. The answer is Yes they have a guy on Retainer.. He threw out the first pitch about a week or so ago. He is battling MS and there was a great article on Florida Today about it.1A.. if you are there, do you have that Link still to the FL Today article on the guy? I can't find it on the website.

  24. MicheleS - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    I know 1A was out there! Always delivers!

  25. Anonymous - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    sm13 said… "DC's greatest baseball rivalry is now in full gear. Ladsen has been saying for weeks that Gio will.start opening day. Now, Mark is on the record predicting that Stras will toss the first pitch. I'm lining up with Mark in this epic battle, how about you?"If Ladsen said opening day is in April and Mark said it was in August, I'd still go with Mark. When has Ladsen been right…about anything?

  26. Sunderland - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    Anon 8:20, it has not been announced or definitevely decided, but I seriously doubt they would skip the 5th starter. They would need to throw him the next day anyway to keep everyone else on regular rest.So 5 guys, one at a time, and NatGio is due up for the home opener.

  27. fast eddie - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    Kilgore has an eye-opening article in today's Post re: #1 and 2 hitters. One stat leaps out: the Nats' lead-off OBP of .285 was the worst in MLB in 10 years!! Rizzo and Davey don't need to be sabremetric freaks, but they can't ignore that number. Someone posted this recently but it fits here:"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."

  28. Anonymous - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    "Only if you consider 20 days, including four for the All-Star break, 'plenty of days' over a six month period."Well, not counting the four for the all-star break, it would mean 16 times during the season that the starters don't pitch every 5th day, no? A typical starter only gets ~30-32 starts a season, so just over half of a typical starters starts are not every 5th day.

  29. MicheleS - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    Boz is working on his man crush on Harper. Just another glass of the koolaid!

  30. Doug - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    Zimmermann should start opening day. He earned it last year. Don't go with Gio, a guy who is new to the team. Don't go with Strasburg, a guy who's on an innings limit. The reason you start your ace on opening day is because you're trying to maximize how many games he pitches. So I say open with Zimmermann, Gonzalez, Strasburg, Jackson. I'd start Strasburg 4th, but that would look ridiculous.

  31. Anonymous - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    Fascinating (if slightly dated – from 10 years ago) article at http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=1596 mostly answers the question I had about rotations, starters, starts, and "every 5th day."

  32. NatsLady - Mar 21, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    1A, I'm using up my free articles clicking on your links! Nice one.

  33. Drew - Mar 21, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    fast eddie wrote:"Kilgore has an eye-opening article in today's Post re: #1 and 2 hitters. One stat leaps out: the Nats' lead-off OBP of .285 was the worst in MLB in 10 years!!"Granted, Harper's a great athlete, but this is one of my concerns about him playing center, that it will remove a lineup spot for speedy McLeadoff.The most encouraging thing about Kilgore's piece is that Davey said Lombo will lead off in the games that he starts. The other interesting thing is that Davey is likening Lombo to Ben Zobrist, which means Lombo might get a few starts in center, as well as at 2b, 3b, as a way to reach 300 at bats.This lineup is like an otherwise healthy man walking around with a gaping head wound. Ultimately, politeness must give way to surgical intervention, right?Eventually, whether it's Lombo or Rendon, someone will replace Desmond in this lineup.

  34. Manassas Nats Fan - Mar 21, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    I would start Gio, the Straus, Zim, then Lannan and Jackson. Lannan 4th to keep the two lefties not back to back.

  35. Cease the Opportunity - Mar 21, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    I'm not trying to impress anyone, but Ian Desmond reminds me of a Shakespearean character fit to be banished as Coriolanus was banished from Rome. What has he done any less than many, many other Nationals have done to offend thee? I will be first in line to cast him out if he fails this season. I can't name any like many of you can, but many a ballplayer I bet have had early career struggles only to turn on a dime and become HOFamers…

  36. Theophilus - Mar 21, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Most interesting line in this a.m.'s Boswell piece concerned the "$75 million the Nats have targeted" for a FA CF in 2012-13. The ONLY likely-to-be available FA CF next season who could command anywhere close to $75MM is Josh Hamilton. Harper in CF, indeed, makes that idea moot, on several levels.Because Boswell gets all of his inside, off-the-record info from Johnson and Bob Boone, the following point is also significant: "Michael Morse, Adam LaRoche and eventually Anthony Rendon, all corner players, fit into the team’s jigsaw puzzle better" if Harper plays CF. This suggests — to me — that the brain trust thinks Rendon ends up at 1B after the LaRoche contract is up. I don't think Boswell is the most accurate evaluator but he does do a good job of channeling what Johnson, Boone and possibly others are hinting to him.

  37. Anonymous - Mar 21, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    Mark's hear this one, since I e-mailed him offline… I think Gio gets the Opening Day at Wrigley, and Stras pitches next. If you count the days and do the math, Stras would be up for the home opener and would pitch two more times in that homestand (our only homestand in April).The FO gets to crow about it's two lead horses each getting an Opening Day start, the fans at packed Nationals Park get to see Stras on April 12, and the Lerners get three home starts by Stras (thus maximizing the gate, of course) in April. -Bo in Fredericksburg

  38. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 21, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    My problem is that Desmond has been in the organiztion since 2005 and at some point, he is who he is.

  39. Steady Eddie - Mar 21, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    Theo@9:35 –Interesting thoughts. I would hope that one possibility to take from that "corner players" comments is that LF is a corner position, too. And that it could mean that Morse could move to 1B which is probably his best position (he just can't get to a lot of balls effectively — I distinctly remember his 2 or 3 run miss of a liner against the Mets last April that cost us the game but properly wasn't scored an error), and maybe Rendon to LF? Don't know if that's a reasonable potential move when one would hope Rendon fits better at SS or 2B, but neither of those are corner. Or maybe Davey's just trying to make Desi feel more comfortable as he plays with his last bit of rope at SS.Re the business earlier in the thread about rotation timing — while the general rule for the rotation is "every fifth day", in practice that tends to mean "every fifth game(assuming people are healthy and don't need to skip a start or drop a couple of days).

  40. Theophilus - Mar 21, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    Drew –Who says the LO hitter has to be a jackrabbit? If, for example, Rendon ended up being the LO hitter and batted .310, with Espinosa, Zimmerman, Harper, Morse and Werth following him in the order, who would complain? (Strike that: JayB would complain, and Bold Anon and Rude Anon.)In principle, I wouldn't object to Lombardozzi playing CF on occasion but (1) we haven't seen him there, yet; (2) I believe Zobrist has a better arm (and, anyway, plays mostly RF); (3) if the Harper experiment works, it becomes a moot point in two-three months. Once Harper comes up, whether as a CF or not, he's still getting a crash course in being a major league player and I don't Johnson giving him many days off.

  41. Theophilus - Mar 21, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    Erratum: "don't see Johnson giving him many days off."

  42. Cease the Opportunity - Mar 21, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… I cannot in any way compare myself to baseball people or a scout, but I like to think I can see. I will say this, I see what they see. Ian has all the tools to be great. Of course Ian's main problem might be between his ears, a lack of focus and the ability to relax. We all know he needs to routinely knock up his wife, but how many children do they plan to have? Davey Johnson will get the best out of him. I have faith…

  43. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 21, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    Somebody is putting words in my mouth. Precisely when was that said and how does it relate to what I just said?

  44. NatsJack in Florida - Mar 21, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    And I defy anyone find where I have ever referenced any players wife.

  45. A DC Wonk - Mar 21, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    Rizzo and Davey don't need to be sabremetric freaks, but they can't ignore that number.I'm quite sure they are not ignoring it. Just because they haven't solved it, doesn't mean they are ignoring it.Someone posted this recently but it fits here: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result." But they aren't doing the same thing. Davey has already talked about Lombo getting 300AB, and, further, that he'd bat leadoff. Cease the Opportunity said, re: Ian:many a ballplayer I bet have had early career struggles only to turn on a dime and become HOFamers…They usually break out by about now, which is why I think this is a crucial year for Ian.But, for all we know, he already turned. As I've pointed out a number of times over the past week, he batted .289/.338/.417 after the all star break last year. If he could repeat that for an entire year, then the patience will have paid off.

  46. Steve M. - Mar 21, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    Strasburg the Opening Day starter.

  47. JaneB - Mar 21, 2012 at 2:26 PM

    Mark was right! No surprise.

  48. Section 222 - Mar 21, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    I don't much care who they pick to start on Opening Day in Chicago or for the home opener at Nats Park, though I do think that JZ deserves some recognition for the season he had last year and his stellar comeback from TJ surgery. It also wouldn't shock me if the question of how many starts Strasburg could make during the first Nats Park homestand entered into the decisionmaking process. I would be very disappointed, and disgusted, however, if DJ/Rizzo give one second's thought to trying to line up Strasburg to start on his bobblehead night. Ugh.

  49. Steve M. - Mar 21, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    Anonymous said… SteveM a right handed outfielder seems silly when you've already got Morse, Werth, Carroll, DeRosa and perhaps even Lombardozzi? And Jason Michaels is still in camp? March 20, 2012 10:57 PM Its called upgrading unless you think Carroll is the answer. I'm not so sure. Love the idea of Lombo, heck, I suggested that a couple months ago!Over the summer I talked about 4 outfielders of starting quality which was part of my Coco Crisp discussion. Too many LH hitters just don't hit LH pitching well and clearly Harper, Ankiel and Bernadina fall into that category. You face LH pitching about 30% of the time.My feeling was Harper and the LH CFs would benefit from sitting against LH pitching -IF- there was some good alternatives. Crisp is a switch hitter. I also suggested against LH pitching to move Morse to 1st and play DeRosa, Werth and a PTBNL in a RH alignment.I don't think much of Brett Carroll, but when I made the suggestion of Lombo getting some reps in the Outfield I got heckled by a few people. Bourgeois and Cain certainly have been 2 players who haven't shined yet in the Majors because they are RH batters who have struggled against RH pitchers.Since Houston wanted to trade Bourgeois, why not the Nats?

  50. Steve M. - Mar 21, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    Theo, I just can't envision Rendon at 1st. He is a very small target. Reminds of when LoDuca played some games there. Still thinking 2nd, 3rd, or Left Field for Rendon or trade bait.

  51. natsfan1a - Mar 21, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    I figured you hadn't said it and that it was a cut and paste fail by the other commenter.NatsJack in Florida said… Somebody is putting words in my mouth. Precisely when was that said and how does it relate to what I just said? March 21, 2012 10:08 AM

  52. Anonymous - Mar 21, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    NEW POST, by the way, Strasburg is starting Opening Day

  53. Cease the Opportunity - Mar 21, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    NatsJack in Florida said… My apologies. I never meant to intimate that you said this. i was just replying to you with my own comment. Me, NOT you…

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