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Notes: Strasburg preps; Castro back; '21 slate

@jessicacamerato
July 9, 2020

Snapping back into game mode during workouts and throwing as dominantly as Stephen Strasburg did in the Nationals' 2019 World Series run could be enticing, especially with Opening Day just two weeks away. But until games commence on July 23, pitchers around Major League Baseball have to be intentional about

Snapping back into game mode during workouts and throwing as dominantly as Stephen Strasburg did in the Nationals' 2019 World Series run could be enticing, especially with Opening Day just two weeks away. But until games commence on July 23, pitchers around Major League Baseball have to be intentional about their efforts on the mound to be ready for their first starts.

Nats receive rings: 'Definitely worth the wait'

“At this point, it’s kind of like a mad dash,” Strasburg said on Thursday's Zoom call. “It’s trying to get as many reps as you can and get up as close to game speed as possible. We know the clock’s ticking, so it’s just a matter of doing as best you can to listen to your body, but at the same time, get built up.”

No pitcher in baseball ended their season on a higher note last year than Strasburg, who turns 32 on July 20. He became the first pitcher to go 5-0 in a single postseason, and he won the World Series Most Valuable Player Award for his contributions to the Nationals’ first title in franchise history.

Strasburg waited out the delay to start his 11th Major League season from Virginia. He spent hours in his backyard playing catch with his wife, Rachel, and pitching to a net. A home gym facilitated keeping up with his strength and conditioning routine.

“I did my best to stay ready,” he said. “Arm’s feeling good. It’s feeling strong. I think it’s just a matter of getting that little bit of extra extension in your delivery that’s kind of hard to simulate when I was pretty much throwing into a net.”

Strasburg’s training program took into account his massive workload last year. He threw 36 1/3 innings in the playoffs on top of the National League-leading 209 from the regular season. Strasburg is following a carefully mapped out plan during workouts, too.

“In any situation as you get older, you have to do a better job of listening to your body and knowing where’s the fine line between too many reps and not enough,” Strasburg said. “That doesn’t change in this situation.”

Castro back in action
Projected starting second baseman Starlin Castro was cleared to participate in his first workout of summer camp on Thursday. Manager Dave Martinez has been looking forward to having Castro, whom he worked with in the Cubs' organization, in the Nationals' lineup this season.

“It was good to see Starlin,” Martinez said. “It looks like he did a lot of stuff during the off time, and he’s ready to go. He looked good today, so it’s good to have him back.”

2021 regular-season schedule announced
The Nationals are slated to host the Mets on April 1 as part of a six-game homestand to open the 2021 regular season. The schedule includes three West Coast trips (Dodgers, D-backs, Padres, Giants), 13 homestands, 14 weekend series and the annual Fourth of July home game (against the Dodgers).

Interleague competition includes home series against the Rays (June 29-30), Blue Jays (Aug. 17-18) and Red Sox (Oct. 1-3), as well as road games against the Blue Jays (April 27-28), Yankees (May 7-9) and Rays (June 8-9).

The Nats will play 22 of 28 games against NL East rivals (Aug. 24-Sept. 22) before concluding the regular season with a three-game series against the Red Sox.

Jessica Camerato covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @jessicacamerato, Facebook and Instagram.