Wire Taps: Washington Nationals' Stephen Strasburg's Time; Denard Span And Flying Fish

Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

There was the hype before he was drafted. The hype that accompanied his rise through the system. The hype of his debut. The cruel injury and the long rehab period. The hype that surrounded his return. The constant "innings limit" chatter last year. This year it's finally time for the Washington Nationals' Stephen Strasburg to transcend it all.

Stephen Strasburg has always seemed uncomfortable with the fact that he was labeled a superstar before he had really accomplished anything in the majors. FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi quotes Strasburg saying as much in his feature article on the Washington Nationals' 24-year-old right-hander this morning, but as Mr. Morosi and the Washington Post's Thomas Boswell note in their respective reports today, there are greater expectations for the right-hander this season than there have ever been in the past, hard as that is to believe with all the hype that's accompanied his rise through the college ranks, the Nats' system and the majors. This year the Nationals are expected to compete for a World Series championship, and their '09 no.1 overall pick is finally over the rehab and innings restrictions which have been part of his development in the last few years. Now Strasburg is expected to lead the Nationals.

Davey Johnson told reporters yesterday that his surly ace was ready for the challenge and ready to approach the 200 inning plateau the pitcher has talked of trying to reach in 2013. "Last year, I could have, on numerous occasions, [have] gone another inning with him, but I sat on him," the Nats' skipper explained, "That kind of restriction I won't have this year. I'm a little conservative on all pitchers early, then I go to the whip a little bit during the year depending on their pitch counts. But he's certainly somebody that if I didn't have those restrictions on him with the thought of trying to get one more game out of him, he could have probably... would have been, when we shut him down, he probably would have been twenty innings more at that point."

It wasn't just Strasburg's surgically-repaired elbow that concerned the Nationals' manager last year. "When you're coming back from that type of injury, other parts of your arm are going to take that toll," Johnson said, "Because sometimes you'll favor and maybe put more pressure on your shoulder, and also the psychological thought that, 'We're shutting you down,' all those things were working against him last year. He couldn't focus because he was thinking, projecting ahead, and I thought because of the mental anguish, knowing he was going to shut down and probably some of the fatigue, not just in his elbow, but even his shoulder from trying to overly impress, or whatever, I think he's going to be a lot freer. I liked his first outing today. Knowing he's under no restrictions, he was smooth as silk all the way through."

It's Strasburg's time.

It's also time for links and lots of them, RIGHT NOW!!!:

• THE BIG STORY!!!: (Today In Two Parts) -

• "But he’s not a kid. [Stephen] Strasburg is more than one year older than San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner, who has won 15 more games." - "No restrictions on Strasburg this year" - Jon Morosi, MLB News | FOX Sports on MSN

• "How high the Nationals soar this season, and the next several as well, depends on many factors. But be honest: No element is as vital as how high the ceilings of [Stephen] Strasburg and [Bryce] Harper prove to be." - "Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, now men, on a mission for Washington Nationals" - Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post

• NATS BEAT:

• "On Thursday, [Bill] Bray threw his first bullpen session of the spring, and you could see how his mechanics may require a little more upkeep than other pitchers." - "Bill Bray confident, connected in return to Nationals" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "'They tell me it is a tear, and you can’t repair a tear without surgery,' [Danny] Espinosa said Thursday before heading out to the fields for some work. 'So I’m thinking, ‘Why are we rehabbing this?'" - "HARRIS: Danny Espinosa's injury one lingering spring concern for Nationals" - Mike Harris, Washington Times

• "For [Wilson] Ramos, a routine rite of spring carried extra meaning and brought extra nerves." - "Wilson Ramos catches for the first time since surgery at Nationals spring training" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

• "'It’s a long time since I’ve been behind the plate,' [Wilson] Ramos said. 'So I was a little bit scared. But I didn’t feel any pain or sore. I felt excited to be behind the plate again.'" - "Nationals notes: Wilson Ramos passes first post-surgery catching test" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "'I was crazy to start playing again,' [Wilson Ramos] said. 'Now I put my gear on, and I'm very happy for that. It was great to put it on. Now I feel like I'm on the team again. I'm back.'" - "Ramos thrilled to be behind plate again" - Mark Zuckerman, CSN Washington

• "It'd be reasonable for any player coming off a torn ACL and meniscus to be a little concerned about his knee going into his first day back on the job." - "Nationals Pastime: Wilson Ramos: 'I feel like I'm on the team again. I'm back'" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "[Wilson] Ramos hopes he can start blocking balls behind the plate soon. Duke threw two balls in the dirt, but Ramos tried to catch them with his glove instead of dropping down to block them." - "Nats' Wilson Ramos catches for first time since injury" - nationals.com: News

• "'I’m not that old, 32. I’ve been around a little while. But a lot of the guys are younger and hopefully I have something to offer them.'" - Dan Haren - "Dan Haren to serve as the ‘not that old’ veteran of the Nationals rotation" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "Plenty of big names took to the bullpen mounds for their first official throwing sessions of the spring, including the star-studded first group of Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Ross Detwiler and Drew Storen." - "First workout wrap-up" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "[Matt] Purke, a power lefty with tantalizing potential, is not fully ready to be let loose. He is on an interval schedule for his bullpens and the Nationals are taking things slow with him." - "Matt Purke is on an interval bullpen schedule but relieved to be pitching without pain" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "[Dan] Haren insists that he's completely healthy as he enters camp. The back feels great, he says, and he's learned how to take care of it..." - "Nationals Pastime: Haren eager to show health, drop in velocity won't hold him back" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

AND NOW, THE STORY OF DENARD SPAN AND THE FISH...

• "During Nats spring training in Viera on Thursday, a large bird, assumed to be an osprey, flew low over the field with something in its talons." - "Nats practice interrupted by fish falling from the sky" - Sarah Kogod, D.C. Sports Bog

• VIDEO: Washington Post - "Flying Fish Disrupts Nationals' Batting Practice:


• "File this one away under Weird Things That Happen at Spring Training: The Washington Nationals got an unexpected guest Thursday during batting practice. And it wasn't a racing president. It was a fish." - "That time a fish fell from the sky at Washington Nationals practice" - Mike Oz, Big League Stew - Yahoo! Sports

• "'I was just screaming,' [Denard] Span said. 'I'm not an outdoorsman. I didn't want him to attack me.'" - "It was raining fish at Nationals camp, and Denard Span was not happy about it" - Cut 4 - MLB.com: News

• "Clutching a large fish in its talons, the bird of prey flew low over the field as it headed for its nest atop a nearby light tower. Center fielder Denard Span spotted it immediately." - "This One’s for the Birds" - Curly W Live

VIDEO: Davey Johnson And Bryce Harper From ST:


• "We may never have seen a teenager in baseball quite like [Bryce] Harper. He became one of just 17 players since 1893 younger than 20 to qualify for the batting title." - "Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has big goals for 2013" - Joey Nowak, nationals.com: News

• "I want perfection out of myself and I think everybody wants perfection out of our team. And we're going to come out here and play our game and hopefully get deeper than we did last year." - Bryce Harper - "Nationals Pastime: A bulked-up Harper arrives with lofty personal, team goals" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "Bryce Harper arrived early at the Washington Nationals' spring training camp and declared he has several goals for this season -- there's only one he'll share publicly, though." - "Harper arrives early at Nationals camp" - AP/WTOP.com

• "[Bryce] Harper certainly has the physical tools to become an elite power hitter, and manager Davey Johnson is thinking about bumping him down a spot in the Nationals' lineup and having him hit third..." - "Harper driven to reach new heights" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "'It’s going to be a fun year,' Harper said. 'The expectations on this team are really high. I don’t know if it’s World Series.'" - "Bryce Harper has lofty goals for his sophomore season with the Nationals" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "'Every time I look at Harper, he looks to be getting bigger,' quipped Manager Davey Johnson..." - "Bryce Harper reports to camp stronger and wanting a World Series title" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "[Gio] Gonzalez was his typical joking self during his bullpen session, stepping off the mound at one point to share a laugh with Johnson and pitching coach Steve McCatty." - "Nationals Pastime: Johnson discusses Soriano's absence, reactions from first workout" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "The Nationals' public relations staff confirmed that Soriano was being delayed by the visa issue, and it is a day-to-day situation. The club hopes to see him in Florida soon." - "Closer Rafael Soriano absent from Nationals camp due to visa issue" - Joey Nowak, nationals.com: News

• "Gio (Gonzalez) was way ahead of where I thought he’d be. He doesn’t do a lot of throwing in the offseason, and I actually had to sit on him." - "Notes from the Nationals' workout: Bill Bray, Christian Garcia & more" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "[Davey] Johnson again praised [Christian] Garcia’s stuff — the reason he wants to try him as a starter." - "Notes from the Nationals’ first workout" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• "'[I told him], you could think of yourself however you want, but if you could get comfortable starting, that would be great,' [Davey] Johnson said." - Johnson on Christian Garcia - "Nats plan on stretching out Christian Garcia" - nationals.com: News

• "[Davey] Johnson didn't get into specifics on where he plans on slotting players, other than saying he likes hitting [Ian] Desmond sixth, but he implied that [Jayson] Werth would be a good fit in the two-hole..." - "Nationals Pastime: Johnson talks lineup possibilities" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg said Thursday that he was shocked that he won the Silver Slugger Award during the offseason." - "Silver Slugger Award win a surprise for Stras" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News

• "[Drew] Storen sat in the dugout at Space Coast Stadium on a sun-kissed Wednesday afternoon and went through the public process of addressing what happened in October." - "Drew Storen puts NLDS collapse behind him as new season dawns" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "For [Drew] Storen, the pain from the end of 2012 wore off over the winter. He watched the tape. He went to London." - "Nationals pitcher Drew Storen accepts his 2012 failure in Game 5, and now moves on to 2013" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post

• VIDEO: Davey Johnson on MLB Network On Nats' potential:


• Your Daily Message From The Dalai Lama On Twitter (@DalaiLama):

• ICYMI:

• "Although it’s still unclear what cooperation that entailed, [Gio] Gonzalez had blood and urine samples taken two days after the New Times report was published on Jan. 29, according to two people with knowledge of the situation." - "Gio Gonzalez was drug tested two days after report linked him to Biogenesis" - James Wagner, Washington Post

• NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

• "On the morning of the Washington Nationals first official workout, their biggest offseason acquisition was not present." - "Nationals top offseason acquisition a no-show at camp" - Scott Boeck, USA Today

• "[Scott] Boras said he expects [Rafael] Soriano, who is from the Dominican Republic, will report to camp "soon." A team spokesman said the team has the same expectation." - "Rafael Soriano reliever misses start of Washington Nationals spring training" - Jon Morosi, FOX Sports on MSN

• "[Jon] Heyman notes that [Rafael] Soriano has a five-year work visa, but additional documentation was required by the consulate after the reliever changed employers (i.e., signed with the Nats)." - "Rafael Soriano delayed by visa issue" - Dayn Perry, CBSSports.com

• "On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim signed Chad Cordero to a minor league deal, and Cordero tweeted, 'comeback has officially begun.'" - "Chad Cordero Signs a Minor League Deal" - Alex Remington, FanGraphs Baseball

• NATSTOWN:

• "February 15, 1916 With the emergence of Joe Judge at 1B, the Washington Senators sell Chick Gandil to Cleveland for $7,500." - "This Date in Washington Senators History" - Art Audley, D.C. Baseball History

• "Are you ready for some baseball? The Nationals have released their plans for TV and radio coverage of Spring Training." - "Nationals Broadcast Options" - DC Pro Sports Report

• "Washington Nationals Games on WUSA9" - Cheryl Nichols, District Sports Page

• "There will be at least 29 Nats games you won’t need to tune to MASN to watch" - William F. Yurasko, William World News

• "Bryce Harper: "It's an exciting time for DC. I'm getting chills right now thinking about it." (Video) - NatsEnquirer

• "Minors Pitching Staff Analysis, Part Four" - Luke Erickson, NationalsProspects.com

• "Henry Rodriguez still isn’t healthy?" - Todd Boss, Nationals Arm Race

• "Stan Kasten surely approves: Nats switching to same hot dog vendor as Phillies" - William F. Yurasko, William World News

• NL EAST UPDATES:

Mets: "It is by no means an accident that the two wunderkind righties are paired side-by-side here. Rather, it is by Terry Collins’ design. 'I want Zack [Wheeler] to lean on Matt [Harvey] for his experience in his first big league camp," the manager said." - "NY Mets pitchers Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler's minor resemblance" - Bill Madden, NY Daily News

Phillies: "After undergoing surgery to repair a ruptured left Achilles' on Oct. 12, 2011, Howard didn't get into a major league game until the year was half over, on July 6, when the Phillies were in last place and 13 games out of first." - "Ryan Howard has a healthy attitude about 2013 season" - Ryan Lawrence, Philadelphia Daily News

Braves: "[Hank] Aaron knows about brothers as teammates, after having brother Tommie Aaron on Braves teams for parts of seven seasons." - "Aaron pleased with Braves additions, hated losing Prado" - David O'Brien, www.ajc.com

Marlins: "They may be the two most identifiable players remaining on the Marlins. But Giancarlo Stanton and Ricky Nolasco are nobodies in Europe..." - "Giancarlo Stanton, Ricky Nolasco are nobodies in Europe" - Clark Spencer, Fish Bytes, Miami Herald

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