DC GM Mike Rizzo was on the Sirius/XM MLB Network Radio show "First Pitch" with former DC GM Jim Bowden and Bowden's co-host Casey Stern on Thursday afternoon to talk about the recent shoulder issues '09 1st Round pick Stephen Strasburg has been dealing with, the negotiations with the 2010 1st Round pick Bryce Harper and the progress of talks with their big middle-of-the-order bat Adam Dunn, who's going to be spending the remainder of the campaign in DC after being taken off waivers Wednesday according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article entitled, "Dunn happy to remain with Nationals."
The discussion started with a question about the "injury" Strasburg suffered, and with the Nats' GM quickly correcting the host (his former boss), "We're not describing it as an injury, Jim,":
Mike Rizzo: "He has a little discomfort and tightness in his shoulder. We, of course went the cautious route and we just pulled him out of his start. If it was in his second year, third year in the big leagues, he would have pitched right through it. It was a call that I made just erring on the side of caution. When you get a phone call like that with a guy like Stephen Strasburg it's tough to tell yourself to let him pitch through it no matter what the crowd is or who the team you're playing and that kind of thing. He came back, hadn't pitched for twenty days, and his velocity was very good, he was really strong, too strong, and just couldn't find a rhythm, couldn't get in sync and even a guy who throws hard with some life, when you go down to being a one-pitch predictable pitcher against the Florida Marlins, they can turn around fastballs and [Dan] Uggla's as good a high ball fastball hitter as anybody around and he got beat up."
Mike Rizzo on the rest of Strasburg's season:
Rizzo: "Well he feels great and he's back on his regular rotation, his regular schedule, we're going to stay at our pitch limits that we had for him since Spring Training and our innings limits, so we should see him pitch to about 155, 165 innings this year and after that, whenever that may be, we will shut him down for the summer and consider it a learning season and a successful one by a lot of measures."
Mr.'s Rizzo, Bowden and Stern then discussed the new training regimen that Strasburg's begun as described in detail in Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore's Nationals Journal post entitled, "Stephen Strasburg's new routine and Nationals injury updates". Asked to reflect on the process of developing the 22-year-old right-hander Mr. Rizzo said he, "...can't find any negatives. He's grown so much as a person, as a professional player and as a personality. He really made great strides on an off the field. As far as, as a pitcher, you ask anybody he's pitched against, his stuff plays in the big leagues. He's going to be a successful pitcher, given help, and he's one of those guys, when the visiting team comes into the city says, 'Aw, jeez. We got Strasburg tonight," along with the rest of the rotation. He's come a long way in the way he's dealt with the media, the way he's dealt with the everyday-ness of professional baseball...so he's come a long way, made leaps and bounds, exceeded all of my expectations..."
DC GM Mike Rizzo on Bryce Harper:
Mike Rizzo: "I describe the negotiations as slow, but on pace, nothing out of the ordinary. Scott [Boras] and I have spoken on several occasions, we met all three days [when the Nats were in LA] playing the Dodgers, we sat down and had some lively discussions, so, I think I would describe them as on track, moving as expected, slowly but step by step and at the end of the day I think you have a player that wants to sign, an organization that wants to sign him and usually when that happens you can come to an agreement."
DC GM Mike Rizzo On The Nats' Big Middle-of-the-order Bat:
"We definitely want to resign him, we think he's an integral part of the ballclub and we're actively trying to sign him." As for the non-trade at the Non-Waiver Trade Deadline, the Nats' GM said the team has, "...had discussions really since Spring Training with his representatives and with Adam personally. We had an offer on the table for him well before the Trade Deadline, we had been in discussions. I think part of my job is to find out what type of interest is out there in him. I had an expectation of what I wanted to get in an Adam Dunn trade if there was a trade. You know, this is a very difficult player to trade, as you guys know, especially you, Jim. There's not a lot of guys with clean-up hitter abilities, this guy's a prototypical 40 HR guy, drives in a 100, good guy in the clubhouse, good guy in the community. His teammates love him and you have to make a good trade for a player like that. I wasn't satisfied with a prospect deal. With several lower prospects for him. So we chose to keep him and I think we owed it to our fanbase to make either A) A good trade that impacts our ballclub, [or B)] Keep the player and keep him performing for the Nationals throughout this year and beyond."
How much does Dunn being Dunn affect negotations?
Mike Rizzo: "I think we're going to prove and we have proven that we've taken strides to prove that we are an organization on the way up. I think Adam is a piece of that, a big piece of that. But you have to make prudent baseball deals. I think it would be shortsighted for not only the ballclub, but for the fanbase if you made a bad deal that hamstrings your ability to do other things down the road...and as far as the intangibles go, that's the reason that we're interested in signing the players. Because of the Adam Dunn as a whole. If he was just a player and didn't have the other intangibles, that would have one decision for us, but because he is such a good a player and good in the clubhouse and the community, of course that makes our decision that much more easy. Our job here is to think long-term, is to allocate our resources in the best way we can. We'd love to make a deal, we have to make a good deal and a deal that doesn't hamstring us as time goes on throughout the years."
Adam Dunn defensively at first?
Mike Rizzo: "I think he's a work in progress, Jim. I think he's made strides to become a better defender. He's certainly not at the place defensively that he wants to be or I would like him to be. We see the game going to pitching, speed, defense and athleticism as the way to go. Of course, he doesn't have to be the defender that a light-hitting first baseman does because of the potential that he has with the bat, but he wants to be a better defender, we'd like him to continue to improve his footwork around the base and his instincts around the base, I believe he's going to do so. We're encouraged by the strides he's made, but we're certainly not satisfied as a team or Adam personally."