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Washington Nationals' Stephen Strasburg Post Game Press Conference.

"I know that I'm pitching in five days," Stephen Strasburg said yesterday after throwing thirty-one pitches for the Hagerstown Suns in his first competitive start in nearly a year. "I really don't know where yet but I'm really looking forward to it." The 23-year-old right-hander told reporters he felt "jitters" or adrenaline pumping for the first time since he made his MLB debut last June against the Pirates. "It's a great feeling," Strasburg explained, "when you go out there, you get through the first inning, you go out there and do it again, and you just kind of get that itch to go out there and compete in five days and that's something that I haven't been able to experience for a long time."

Of the 31 pitches Strasburg threw on Sunday, 25 of them were strikes. He struck out four and surrendered three hits, one of them a home run to the prospects on the Florida Marlins' Class-A affiliate. Both the high-A Potomac Nationals and the Double-A Harrisburg Senators have home games this Friday when the starter would make his next start, but reporters wanted to know about the possibility of the Nats' '09 no. 1 overall pick throwing in the majors this September. "It's a goal I made for myself coming right out of surgery," Strasburg said, "I wanted to come back and get the experience pitching in September. I knew it possibly wasn't going to happen just based on how I was recovering, but I haven't had any setbacks so far and it's coming back nicely."

The biggest thing Strasburg learned throughout the rehab process was patience. "That's something that I've struggled with my whole life. I just want things to just 'happen', and I've waited this long, I've waited eleven months and I feel like there's not much more to go, so I know as long as I keep working hard and end this season here healthy, hopefully the 2012 season is going to be a lot of fun." 

The focus for now is on fastball command Strasburg explained. As much as he'd like to go out there and strike batters out with his best stuff, he said, "I'm not really at that point yet in the development, coming back. They really want me to focus on fastball command first and then mixing in your offspeed. I think it's something that's going to help me out in the long run. Once I keep on executing the fastball the way I want to I'm going to be able to go deeper into games, not necessarily try to strike everybody out, but be a little bit more efficient out there."

Asked about the team he'll be rejoining and if he looks forward to playing with any of the new Nats who've arrived since he last pitched, Strasburg admitted, "I'm going to be honest, I'm being kind of selfish in the sense that I want to get back out there. I want to help this organization, I want to help the big league club eventually win a bunch of games and get to the promise land and when the time comes, I know as far as the chemistry with the club up there, just from what I saw in Spring Training they've got a great group of guys and I know it's going to be fun going out there and battling with them." Five days from now he'll take the next step towards reaching his goal.