He's been around for a while, but Stephen Strasburg is really just getting started. "I still think I'm a work in progress," the '09 no.1 overall pick told ESPN980's Thom Loverro in an interview that aired on Friday, a day in advance of the starter taking the mound against the New York Mets in today's Grapefruit League opener. "I'm 24 years old and I've had relatively..." Strasburg said, "I guess, relatively, I've have a little over a full season in the big leagues, so I've still got a lot to learn and I think there's a lot of room for me to grow and get better." After going (15-6) with a 3.16 ERA, 2.82 FIP, 48 walks (2.71 BB/9) and 197 Ks (11.13 K/9) in 28 starts and 159.1 inning pitched before he was shut down last season in his first full year back following Tommy John surgery, Strasburg is now (21-10) with a 2.94 ERA, 2.47 FIP, 2.40 BB/9 and 11.21 K/9 in 45 starts and 251.1 IP three years into his MLB career.
Strasburg's talked before about being uncomfortable with all the attention he's received considering that he hasn't done all that much in the game at this point, but nobody has higher hopes of what he can eventually accomplish in his major league career than the pitcher himself. "Obviously, I have high expectations for myself," Strasburg told ESPN980's Mr. Loverro yesterday, "and coming into the big leagues with all the hype and stuff, I've been able to back it up for the most part. And so what usually happens is that the expectations are risen and almost taken to whole new levels and I just want to go out there and I want to be a good guy in the clubhouse and I want to be there for my teammates and I want to go out there and give it everything I have every fifth day."
The Nationals' no.1 starter's fourth major league season in D.C. starts this afternoon in Port St. Lucie, Florida's Tradition Field where the righty and a mix of young players and Nats' starters take on their NL East rivals from New York. Joining Strasburg at the Mets' Spring home will be new Nats' center fielder Denard Span, Steve Lombardozzi, Bryce Harper, country-strong slugger Tyler Moore and more. Here's the Nats' lineup for the Grapefruit League opener courtesy of MLB.com's Bill Ladson:
Today's game starts at 12:10 pm EST and it's being aired on the MLB Network. It's time for baseball. Live from sunny Florida. It's the Nats and Mets. Grapefruit League action. Strasburg on the hill. Denard in center. Harper in left and hitting third. Who's watching the NATIONALS?