Washington Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told reporters early Monday morning that it would be Stephen Strasburg on the mound tonight in the right-hander’s 2021 Grapefruit League debut, after the World Series MVP in 2019 was limited to two starts and five innings of work last season, when an issue eventually diagnosed as carpal tunnel neuritis required surgery.
Rizzo was asked what he wanted to see from Strasburg this spring as far as signs that things are better this time around for the ‘09 No. 1 overall pick.
“He knows his body well — by the way I think he’s going to pitch tomorrow’s game,” Rizzo said. “He knows his body well. So we trust what he says to us and he’s ramped up to the point where he feels comfortable, and I think that like we said at the beginning of spring, it’s going to be kind of a normal prepare-for-the-season-type of offseason for him, and it has been and I think you’ll see him ramp up to prepare for the opening of the season.”
“He’s going to pitch tomorrow,” manager Davey Martinez said in his own Zoom call on Monday.
“He’s scheduled to get about 30-35 pitches. Hopefully we can get him through two innings.
“It’s hard, because I know you guys can’t see what we’re doing on the back field. But these guys are getting stretched out pretty good. I know it’s in a controlled environment, cause we can control their live BPs and things of that nature, but these guys have all been up to about 40-45 pitches, 50 pitches, but in a controlled environment. So it’s good to get them out there and get them going, getting them to face other teams, and get them in a live situation.”
Strasburg, now 32, and heading into his 12th season in the majors, said early this spring his goal this year is the same as it is in others, to be able to answer the bell when his turn in the rotation comes around.
“I think every single year it’s always been trying to answer the bell every fifth day,” Strasburg said upon arriving in West Palm Beach, “... and it’s been more of a roller coaster trying to achieve that goal, but it’s something I always strive for and the results are going to be what they’re going to be, I put in a lot of work, so there’s really nothing else I can do except go out there and compete and be a good teammate and give it everything I have.”