Nats hopeful Strasburg joins team in veteran presence role

February 14th, 2024

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Stephen Strasburg’s nameplate remains above his locker inside the Nationals’ clubhouse at the CACTI Park of the Palm Beaches.

The 35-year-old right-hander, who has not appeared in a Major League game since June 9, 2022, because of thoracic outlet syndrome, is not in camp, but the Nationals are hopeful he joins the team during Spring Training in a veteran presence role.

“We treat him like every other player on the 40-man roster,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “We’ve reached out to him. We've given him the invitation, and we'll see where that takes us.”

Strasburg was shut down from baseball activities last season, and news emerged last August of his plans to retire. Strasburg signed a seven-year, $245 million contract in December of 2019.

“He is not in baseball rehabilitation mode,” Rizzo said. “He's just trying to get his body back into shape where he could live his life.”

The Nationals’ clubhouse is stacked with top prospects this spring, and the club would like for the 2019 World Series Most Valuable Player to be a source of knowledge and insight.

“I'm not going to get into what our expectations of him are fully, but yeah, be around,” Rizzo said. “You're a legacy part of this franchise. Be here, be accessible to young players. What better guy for [Cade] Cavalli to lean on? Stras has had the Tommy John, came back from the Tommy John, pitched great after the Tommy John. How do you rehab from it? How do you prepare after you have your rehab from it? So this guy's got a lot to offer a franchise beyond toeing it up on the rubber.”

“He’s invited like every other guy on our 40-man roster,” Rizzo said. “He's got until Feb. 24 to be here, and I expect him to be here.”

Next chapter arriving to camp
There were familiar faces on the first pitchers and catchers workout of Spring Training, and then there was a series of lockers representing the next chapter of the team. Dylan Crews (No. 7 overall, Nats’ No. 1 prospect), James Wood (No. 14 overall, Nats’ No. 2), Brady House (No. 48 overall, Nats’ No. 3), Robert Hassell III (Nats’ No. 8), Trey Lipscomb (Nats’ No. 14) and Darren Baker (Nats’ No. 25) were invited to their first big league Spring Training.

“I’ve actually been here for over a week now, and we’ve had a multitude of guys already here,” manager Dave Martinez said. “I love the enthusiasm, I love the energy that I’ve seen so far. … I’ve seen some guys already mixing and mingling with some of the veteran guys, so it’s been interesting to watch the whole combination of how they’re conversing. I’m excited, I’m really excited about this year.”

Williams to join team after birth of child
Right-hander Trevor Williams remained home with his family and will report to camp after his wife gives birth to their child soon.

“Instead of having him fly here and having to fly back in a day or two, we just said to stay there ‘til the baby's born and then come back,” said Rizzo. “But he's been working. He's fully ready to get here and pitch and hit the ground running. He's got a very strict workout program and [he’s] diligent about it. I'm not worried about him being ready.”

Williams, who has pitched multiple roles in his career, made 30 starts last season, his most since 2018. The Nationals plan to stretch him out as a starter during Spring Training in a competition for the fourth and fifth spots in the starting rotation.