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Stephen Strasburg ready for third Opening Day start

Mar 30, 2014, 12:00 PM EST

Strasburg: 'I think our lineup's better'

Entering his fifth season in Major League Baseball, Stephen Strasburg will take the mound on Monday afternoon in New York to start yet another Opening Day for the Nationals. This will be his third season opener, and having been through it before, he knows exactly what to expect.

“You just have to treat it like another game. The biggest thing is just working around the extra ceremonies. Guys getting called out to the lines and everything. If they have a flyover, they have a flyover. Just one start of many and just gotta focus on the process and focus on the end result. That’s playing our best baseball at the end of the year.”

Strasburg has been no stranger to high expectations for both himself and lately for his team. Last season the Nationals were predicted by many to win the World Series, including Sports Illustrated. SI has returned this year with the same proclamation: the Nats are Series favorites.

Having already played a season under that distinction, having already been through a year with a target on their backs, Strasburg says the Nationals will not be affected by those expectations.

“I don’t subscribe to Sports Illustrated or ESPN The Magazine, so I really don’t read that stuff too much. I think maybe from a media perspective it can change the way our club is viewed. Bottom line is, in the clubhouse we know how hard it is to even get to the playoffs on a year in and year out basis. That’s something that we’re shooting for. As you’ve seen in the past, anything can happen when you get there. It’s not always the best team on paper or the team with the best record over the course of the year, it’s just whoever is hot.”

Though Strasburg’s win-loss record of 8-9 in 2013 suggests it was a trying year, many statistics show it was his best season. He held a 3.00 ERA over a career-high 183 innings, posted a 1.049 WHIP and had his first complete game shutout.

Strasburg has a career 2.96 ERA and has been among the game’s best pitchers when healthy, but still has room for improvement. He still hopes to hit the 200-inning mark and frequently cites durability as something he strives for.

“I think my first year was definitely a challenge for myself. Every single ball I threw was magnified. I think at times I really pushed myself to be game-ready at the start of spring,” he said.

“Just from talking to guys that have been through it before and have figured out the puzzle of what it’s like to stay healthy and throw 200-plus innings every year and make all their starts, what they all say is that it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. You have to try and not change your program from one bad start to the next. You just gotta stay the course.”

Strasburg compared the process to another of his favorite sports.

“Much like golf, if you start out with a couple of bogeys, you can’t just try and change your swing or change your approach. You just gotta keep working hard. That’s all you can really do, be ready to toe it up and compete every fifth day.”

Strasburg is 2-0 in Opening Day starts, having beat the Marlins a year ago and the Cubs in 2012. The Nationals open their 2014 season at the New York Mets at Citi Field on Monday at 1:05 p.m.

  1. sjm308 - Mar 30, 2014 at 12:49 PM

    I could get used to SS doing this 10 or so years for us. Too early to worry about that long term deal so I will just enjoy the moment.

    Pretty sure there is a long list somewhere on the inter web but the Post had a bunch of moves listed this morning.
    Saw that C. Brown will once again be tearing up AAA
    Also saw that B. Burns did not make the A’s big team
    Wish both those young men well but I think ones career is probably fading and the others is on the rise.

    • nats128 - Mar 30, 2014 at 1:00 PM

      Didnt see any of that on CBrown and B Burns. I thought BillyB (not the GM) made the team. Even so, he should certainly be up this year.

      • natsjackinfl - Mar 30, 2014 at 1:21 PM

        Billy Burns was optioned to AA by the A’s.

      • Joe Seamhead - Mar 30, 2014 at 1:24 PM

        I never thought Burns would make the 25 man to start the season.They kept him with the big league squad to play the Golden Gate series this weekend as a reward for how well he did this spring. My guess would be that he will be a call up sometime this summer. He was the buzz of the A’s ST both with the fans and their management. He led their team in hits, outfield assists, and stolen bases. Actually he led MLB in stolen bases for the spring, but he did get picked off 3 times, all by lefthanders. The A’s are going to have Rickey Henderson work extensively with him.

  2. lphboston - Mar 30, 2014 at 12:54 PM

    Should we point out that the Nats played their best baseball at the end of last year and it got them squat because there was no urgency early on?

  3. Sonny G 10 - Mar 30, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    Hey, Stras. Let’s make it 3-0 on opening day starts. Go, Nats, Go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Sec 3 My Sofa - Mar 30, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    “It’s a long season and you just gotta trust it.”
    -Annie Savoy

    Is this our first IAMNAS instance?
    Calls for a Gulp-Bang!

  5. Eric - Mar 30, 2014 at 2:29 PM

    So it looks like the rain is supposed to be gone by 7 or 8 tomorrow night… Is it conceivable that they’d start that long after the official start time on opening day?

    • Joe Seamhead - Mar 30, 2014 at 2:40 PM

      Eric, who can say? I’m thinking Tuesday. All I know is we’ve gotten a fresh inch of snow out here near Seneca. Sigh…

      • Eric - Mar 30, 2014 at 2:49 PM

        Wouldn’t surprise me if it’s Tuesday, just wondering… Hoping… Ready for meaningful games!!!

      • Eric - Mar 30, 2014 at 3:34 PM

        Wait, Seneca, MD? Craziness. I really love snow, but I hate changeable temps with a passion.

  6. slidell2 - Mar 30, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    Heavy wind-driven snow in upper Montgomery for last hour or so! Good thing that Opening Day is away this year.

    • Eric - Mar 30, 2014 at 3:32 PM

      Montgomery… County?! That’s crazy!

  7. ArVAFan - Mar 30, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    OK, I am officially ready for Opening Day (whenever that may occur). My Outlook calendar is blocked off, and I have my nails Nationals Red with baseball decals on my pinkies. If that doesn’t say “It’s Spring already, stop snowing!” I don’t know what does.

  8. Sonny G 10 - Mar 30, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    Well, I guess this snow is come comeuppance for all the players that may have been making fun of our weather when they were in Florida. Must have made the baseball gods mad. So, baseball gods, get this out of your system and lets have baseball weather already!!!!

    • Candide - Mar 30, 2014 at 3:40 PM

      Shouldn’t the gods be taking it out on Florida? I mean, what the ckuf did we do to bring their wrath down upon us?

      Going to break open the Bible now to the book of Job…

  9. NatsLady - Mar 30, 2014 at 4:09 PM

    Opening Day Ticker Prices

    • NatsLady - Mar 30, 2014 at 4:10 PM

      Er, “TICKET” prices

  10. letswin3 - Mar 30, 2014 at 5:34 PM

    Just checked the New York weather forecast … looks like they just might get it in tomorrow. But temps in the 50’s. The good news is that they have a sunny Tuesday to do a make-up, if needed.

    • Eric - Mar 30, 2014 at 6:16 PM

      Wow… It’s supposed to be 47 and partly cloudy at game time… That’s pretty chilly!

  11. Joe Seamhead - Mar 30, 2014 at 6:16 PM

    Hey, sjm308 and all the other craft beer drinkers! Check this public service announcement from the Mad Foxx Brewers:

    http://madfoxbrewing.com/drink-mad-fox-beers-nationals-park-season

    • Joe Seamhead - Mar 30, 2014 at 6:18 PM

      308? Please note, from the map linked above it appears that neither of us have to walk too far!

    • Eric - Mar 30, 2014 at 6:20 PM

      So awesome how this is becoming the norm at Nats Park. Hope to see DC Brau in the mix soon. How cool would it be if local craft beer overtook national breweries in the stadium someday? Highly unlikely, but fun to imagine.

      • sjm308 - Mar 30, 2014 at 9:01 PM

        Eric – they have several stands, including one up by us that already were serving DC Brau last year. They had Port City, Three Star and at least one other local craft beer on tap.

      • Eric - Mar 30, 2014 at 9:06 PM

        Awesome!

    • sjm308 - Mar 30, 2014 at 8:54 PM

      Seam!! this is one of my favorite places when I have to cross that damn river.
      Seriously, I have a friend from HS & he lives in VA – I live in MD so we are always dividing our places to drink good beer and we have been to Mad Fox at least 6 times. Love they are starting us out with a nice Irish Stout.
      Just had one of his beers that was entered in the Post Beer Madness contest at Meridian Pint.

      This is almost as good as a winning streak but I honestly would not care what is served if we are winning.

  12. NatsLady - Mar 30, 2014 at 7:19 PM

    Nats picked up a minor-league pitcher from the White Sox.

    • scnatsfan - Mar 30, 2014 at 8:48 PM

      And Laffey. Looks like guys to eat innings.

  13. NatsLady - Mar 30, 2014 at 7:21 PM

    Everyone should read this great WaPo article on Desi, if you haven’t already.
    Desi and the Nationals

    • Joe Seamhead - Mar 30, 2014 at 7:32 PM

      Terrific piece, Thanks for the link. Ian seems to be a rock.

    • Eric - Mar 30, 2014 at 7:44 PM

      +1

    • unkyd59 - Mar 30, 2014 at 8:48 PM

      Thanks, NL… Makes me warm and proud that I was among his boosters, those first couple of years…

    • Sonny G 10 - Mar 30, 2014 at 9:35 PM

      Thanks, NatsLady, I really enjoyed that article. I knew he was special by the way he is always out early signing autographs for the kids. I’m proud to have him on the Nats.

    • Candide - Mar 30, 2014 at 10:15 PM

      I remember reading during his rookie year that Desmond had somehow appointed himself the team leader. “What an arrogant little pup,” I thought.

      Don’t remember the last time I was so happy that my first impression was so wrong. Great story.

  14. smargenau - Mar 30, 2014 at 10:02 PM

    No login via mobile?

  15. smargenau - Mar 30, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    Is there no login button on mobile?

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