"Strasburg is on the mound now. Guessing there are 80 people watching." - MASNSports.com's Ben Goessling (@masnNATS)
"Nyjer Morgan calls S. Strasburg "Jesus." Why? Morgan explains: " ‘Cause what’s the first thing you say when you watch him pitch? Jeee-sus!" - Washington Post writer Chico Harlan (@chicoharlan)
Depending upon whose Twitter feed you were reading, Stephen Strasburg's first bullpen session this morning lasted anywhere from 8-9 minutes over which he threw 37-40 pitches in front of the 80 or more gathered members of the media and under the watchful eye of his coaches and even Washington Nationals' team President Stan Kasten.
"Are you getting used to the whole world watching a simple bullpen like today?" ESPN.com's Tim Kurkjian asked Stephen Strasburg this afternoon during an interview which was featured on ESPN.com's Baseball Tonight's Grapefruit Express Tour segment from Viera, Florida's Space Coast Stadium, the Spring home of the Washington Nationals. "Uh, slowly, definitely," Strasburg responded, "You know, when I was throwing bullpens all offseason, there was nobody there watching me, but now once we get out here to Florida there's a bunch of people watching, so it's pretty exciting." Asked by Mr. Kurkjian if the knee injury he suffered in the Arizona Fall League had fully healed and how is overall health was going into Spring Training, the Nationals' '09 no.1 overall pick told the ESPN reporter, "I definitely feel 100%, my arm feels great, my knee feels great, and I'm just ready to go, I'm ready to see what I can do this year and you know I'm just going on all cylinders right now."
The most interesting quote from the Baseball Tonight segment came in the post interview commentary Mr. Kurkjian conducted with BBT host Karl Ravech, during which he talked about a conversation he had with Nationals' Senior Advisor to the GM, Davey Johnson, who was Strasburg's coach when he was the lone collegiate pitcher taken to Beijing as part of the 2008 US Olympic Baseball team:
Tim Kurkjian: "Davey Johnson told me today, he said, when it comes to stuff and throwing strikes, I mean, he can pitch in the big leagues right now, and he said, the third thing that kids have to have to be ready for the big leagues is poise, he said when I had him on the Olympic team, those guys were all over him, they called him 'college kid' and everything else, they were always making fun of him, cause he was the only college kid on the Olympic team, and he said he handled it all beautifully so, from the mental aspect, he appears ready for this, he said all the right things that I've heard so far, and again, we're not going to see him for a couple of months, but my guess is, when he gets here, he's not going back..."
Washington Skipper Jim Riggleman confirmed what everyone already assumed and what Mr. Kurkjian said in that last line about Strasburg starting the season in the minors in several articles this afternoon, including MASNSports.com's Ben Goessling's article entitled, "Riggleman says Strasburg likely to start in minors", where Mr. Riggleman is quoted stating:
"'I really wouldn't want to say he's competing for a spot in the rotation,' Riggleman said. 'We're open-minded. Everybody's performances will determine where they end up. He could pitch real well down here, but we still may feel like the development process is to be respected in going through the system and getting really used to the rigors of throwing every fifth day in games.'"
The Potomac Nationals marketing department began marketing a $15 Million Plan last week that sets you up with a seat for Opening Day at the P-Nats' Pfitzner Stadium when Strasburg could, potentially, maybe...make his 2010 debut on the mound...Who's going to see the P-Nats? Washington Post writer Dave Sheinin wrote in an article last week entitled, "Stephen Strasburg era begins for Washington Nationals", that he believed the plan for Strasburg would be for the 21-year-old right-hander to make, "Five starts at Potomac and, say, five more in Harrisburg (which) would put Strasburg in Washington by June...'" and, "...would also cut into Strasburg's big-league service time just enough to delay his reaching free agency until after 2016, as opposed to 2015 -- a justifiable line of reasoning, given the franchise's record-setting investment in him."
?'s For the DC Faithful...
• Should we assume the same path to the majors for Drew Storen?
• Would Store be better off starting the season in the DC Bullpen?
• Any chance you think Strasburg's so good he demands a spot?
• Are the Nationals done adding pitching?
• Is the Strasburg coverage completely over the top?
• Spring Training, Pfitzner Stadium, DC in June? Where are you going to see Strasburg first?