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Silver Slugger Award win a surprise for Stras

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg said Thursday that he was shocked that he won the Silver Slugger Award during the offseason. It was the first piece of hardware he's won since he entered the big leagues in 2010. Strasburg went 13-for-47 (.277) with a home run and seven RBIs during the 2012 season.

"I was kind of shocked. I really didn't look at the numbers or anything. That's not what I focus on, but I was pretty excited," Strasburg said. "My friends and family were a little more excited. I didn't expect it to be the first award."

Strasburg thought he could handle the bat until he reached the big leagues in 2010. In his first two years in the Majors, he was 1-for-26 with an RBI. For Strasburg, the game suddenly sped up on him at the plate.

During the offseason of 2011, with the help of former college teammate Brandon "Bubba" Ruddy, Strasburg decided to improve his swing.

"When he was working in the [batting] cages, he wouldn't start work until 2 in the afternoon, so he would catch my [bullpen sessions]," Strasburg said. "And then after that, we would run together and I would hang out at the batting cage, and that's when I would hit a little bit and then go home."

What was Ruddy's reaction to Strasburg wining the Silver Slugger Award?

"He was more excited than I was. He told me that he wants a copy of the trophy so he could have it in his office," Strasburg said.