While the Washington Nationals were introducing their new first baseman, Adam LaRoche, to the D.C. press corps this weekend, 2010 no.1 overall pick Bryce Harper was in the nation's capital participating in the 2011 MLB Rookie Career Development Program, which is a "four-day crash course on what life will be like in the big leagues," (as Major League Baseball describes it) and '09 no.1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg was hosting a charity event/run in San Diego to raise money for the San Diego State University baseball program which prepared him for the major leagues.
LaRoche and Harper both agree that the addition of former Phillies' right fielder Jayson Werth was a big move for the Nationals, with the 31-year-old LaRoche saying that though he'd been interested in Washington before they signed the blockbuster 7-year/$126 million deal with the outfielder, "obviously signing [Jayson] Werth was huge. You put a guy like that not only in the clubhouse but in the middle of the lineup and playing right field, it's obviously a huge pickup, and I think...we keep adding pieces and this could be a really good thing." Harper, who'll force the Nationals to make a decision about where Werth will play in the near-but-likely-not-too-near-future, said that while the Arizona Fall League exposed him to some of the best prospects around the league, he's even more excited about getting to big league camp when Spring Training begins next month. "Big league camp is just going to be a blast for me," Harper said, "being able to be around all those guys, and able to cope, and just hanging out with Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, huge pickup that we had [in] him, and just be able to go out there and have some fun and play like I can."
Strasburg will be in big league camp too, as D.C. GM Mike Rizzo explained this weekend in a scrum with the press during LaRoche's introduction in Washington, but he put the brakes on some of the talk about Strasburg being ahead of schedule in his rehab from Tommy John surgery. "[Strasburg will] be in Florida when pitchers and catchers arrive," Rizzo said when asked, "and he'll begin his throwing program, not unlike what you saw with Jordan Zimmermann last year at this time." Asked about the stories which claimed Strasburg could be throwing off a mound in the next few weeks, however, the Nats' general manager made clear that, "[Strasburg] will throw off the mound when the doctors tell him he will throw off a mound and not a moment sooner."
San Diego State University Skipper and MLB Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn expressed concern too after talking to Strasburg recently, explaining to Sign On San Diego.com's Chris Jenkins in an article entitled, "Strasburg getting lessons in resilience from Gwynn", that, "'[Strasburg] feels like he’s ahead of schedule. He feels like he’s gonna be able to throw sooner than anybody thought. I was telling him, 'Hey, slow dowwwwwn. Tommy John, man. Tommy John.'" Strasburg explains in the article that he's taken the opportunity the surgery has provided to gain some perspective:
"'It’s good because there’s other things in life, other things out there you can appreciate, not just going out there and throwing all the time," he said. "I’ve tried to improve my work ethic, improve my diet, do what I can to be strong when I get back out there. I’m developing some good life habits.'"
While LaRoche was getting familiar with his new home, and Harper was touring it, visiting the White House, where he said the Secret Service recognized and remembered him, Strasburg is studying up on the history of the Washington Nationals and their impact on the nation's capital. The right-hander's completing college courses as he rehabs and one in particular had him writing a thesis on how Nationals Park, "...was funded, the hiring process of the construction workers, how it affected the community, how it sparked development in the area. I learned a lot about the organization in the process." Maybe Strasburg can figure out a way to get the area around Nats Park buzzing (like the inside of the park was when he pitched) before he's back there with LaRoche, Werth and Harper helping the Nats become a contender. Just take it slow, Strasburg, 2012-13 is the target...