WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- In his final tuneup before the regular season begins, Stephen Strasburg put together a dominant capper on his Spring Training.
The Nationals' right-hander fanned 10 Cardinals over 5 2/3 innings in Washington's 4-2 win on Sunday afternoon at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Strasburg had command of all of his pitches, and his two-seam fastball was especially sharp. He held the Cardinals to two runs on three hits and walked three before he was pulled in the sixth inning.
"My arm felt really good all spring," Strasburg said. "I think it's just about reps and just continuing the process. Everything seems to tighten up every time I go out there, and that's all I can ask for."
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Strasburg had been hit around during his previous outing, when he gave up three runs on eight hits and lasted just 4 1/3 innings. The Nationals were hoping to push him to around 90 or 100 pitches in his final Grapefruit League outing before he starts the second game of the season against the Reds on Saturday.
But most importantly, they wanted to keep him healthy. When he stays healthy, he continues to prove he is one of the most dominant pitchers in the National League.
"He was impressive," manager Dave Martinez said. "Good to see, good outing for us. He's ready to go."
Montero excited to have chance to win
Miguel Montero became accustomed to the backup catching role the past few seasons with the Cubs when he split time behind the plate and grew more comfortable in the role. Now, after learning Saturday morning that he had made the Nationals, he is prepared to do so again in Washington.
"I'm excited about it," Montero said. "I'm excited about being a part of a team that has an opportunity to win it all."
Montero, 34, will serve as the primary backup to Matt Wieters, but also adds a left-handed pinch-hitting option off the bench for Martinez. Despite his previous relationship with Martinez and general manager Mike Rizzo he was not given any assurances entering camp that he would make the team. But after he turned in a solid spring and his veteran presence fit in smoothly in the Nationals' clubhouse, the club decided to name him the winner of the backup catching competition.
"If I was competing with anybody, it was myself, just trying to prove to myself that I still can play," Montero said. "Other than that, it wasn't really pressure. I was just playing and doing my thing and letting things work out by themselves.
"One thing's for sure, if I wasn't going to make it, I was going to go home without regrets. I did all I could. It was a great feeling that I did make it."
The Nationals head home to D.C. for an off-day Monday before an exhibition game at 4:05 p.m. ET Tuesday against the Twins. Left-hander Giovany Gonzalez will take the ball, and the lineup behind him could serve as a preview for Martinez's Opening Day lineup with first baseman Ryan Zimmerman expected to play. The game can be heard on Gameday Audio.