Washington Nationals' Davey Johnson Pregame Notes: Stephen Strasburg, Michael Morse And More.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 03: Manager Davey Johnson #5 of the Washington Nationals talks to the media before the game against the New York Mets at Nationals Park on September 3, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

• Davey Johnson On Stephen Strasburg: Nats' Skipper Davey Johnson said before tonight's game that starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg will be on a little bit of a longer leash in his third start of the year at the major league level, and his ninth overall since he started pitching competitively again. Strasburg, according to Johnson, is expected to throw 70+ pitches if all goes well. The Nationals' manager also added that the Nats' '09 no.1 overall pick, "... looks [now] more like he did when he pitched for me [on the U.S. Olympic team] than when he first came up last year, because he was really overthrowing it. He can strike out people, but I never saw him throw it upstairs as much he did when he first came up." 

How long Strasburg goes tonight will depend, "... on what I'm seeing," Johnson said, "I was more worried the first two times out in the big leagues with the pressure and all the publicity. I didn't want to take him until he was tired. Today, I'll take him more to where I think he needs to be."*

The Nationals still haven't made a decision about the last weekend of the season, when Strasburg would line up to make one last start in game 161. "He'll have two more starts with five days rest in between," Johnson said, "Depending on how that goes, he could come back and pitch the last day, or we could give it to one of the kids." 

• Davey Johnson on Michael Morse: There's been a lot of discussion here and elsewhere about the decision to move Michael Morse back to left field so that the Nats could get a look at September call-up Chris Marrero. Davey Johnson, for one, doesn't think the move has affected Morse. "As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't affect him at all," Johnson said, "He's still hitting cleanup. He's had a great year. He's been more of a mainstay in the lineup than anybody else in the lineup. It's never easy changing position, but when you go from first base to the outfield, you're probably just going to get a little bored out there on the field because there's not as much action." 

• Mattheus: Davey Johnson also said right-handed reliever Ryan Mattheus threw a simulated game this afternoon, but his velocity isn't where it was before the injury. He'll likely get a couple days off before he's brought back.

* = My audio was unclear here, end of the quote from MASNSports.com's Byron Kerr's article

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