Strasburg looks 'fantastic' in 1st bullpen session

July 7th, 2020

WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg ran laps around the warning track of Nationals Park during Tuesday’s workout. He had thrown a bullpen session in a mini-simulated game earlier, drawing praise from manager Dave Martinez.

“He looked fantastic,” Martinez said.

Strasburg is gearing up in Summer Camp for his 11th Major League season after tossing 6 1/3 innings in Spring Training. The 31-year-old right-hander is coming off a blockbuster 2019 campaign in which he led the National League with 18 regular-season wins, became the first pitcher to go 5-0 in a single postseason and won the World Series Most Valuable Player Award.

Talk about momentum heading into the 2020 season.

“He was very fluid,” Martinez said. “His mechanics looked good. ... He worked really hard throughout the break. I watched him today and like I said, I liked the way the ball was coming out.”

The Nationals’ pitching staff has been ramping up to throw live batting practice. On Wednesday, Max Scherzer is scheduled to throw three frames in a simulated game and a group of relievers are slated to pitch one inning each.

“We’re there,” Martinez said. “We’ve got to get our guys to see some live pitching and get things rolling. With the shortened Spring Training, we’ve got to push things along. I’m assuming that the pitchers will be a little ahead of the hitters, but they’ve still got to get in there and start seeing the breaking ball, the velo, things of that nature.”

During these appearances, the team will also be evaluating pitchers for the No. 5 starter role after Joe Ross elected not to play this season. Erick Fedde and Austin Voth are strong candidates.

Early look at Kieboom
Martinez had an opportunity to watch Carter Kieboom at the hot corner after saying on Saturday he anticipates the 22-year-old will have the starting job on Opening Day. Kieboom was tasked during the delay with improving his defense at third base, a position he has not yet played at the Major League level. Last season, he played 10 games at shortstop.

“He looks really good. He really does,” Martinez said. “I could tell that he took these last three months and really got some work done. His feet are working really well over there. His hitting, he’s showing his stride a little bit with his hitting. A lot quicker with the baseball. I mean, the ball’s coming off the bat. So far, I like what I see a lot.”

Alternate site workouts begin
The Nationals held their first workout at their alternate training camp site, the New Fredericksburg Ballpark in Virginia, on Wednesday. General manager Mike Rizzo estimated 14 or 15 players were at the second stadium. He anticipates the team will hold morning workouts there on the same schedule they are running at Nationals Park.

"In a regular Spring Training, we make cuts during the season and send them to the Minor Leagues always with the opportunity to reach down and grab them if we need them on the big league level,” Rizzo said of the Nats’ prospects. “I think that's what you're looking at here. As we get closer to our 30-man roster and Opening Day, obviously we're going to send people out to Fredericksburg. But all those people are going to be important in our 2020 regular season, and we're going to keep those people razor-sharp down there with our great player development staff … and some really good players that you will see in D.C. during the regular season."