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Strasburg set for spring debut Friday

Nationals right-hander feeling healthy heading into start vs. Cardinals
MLB.com @JamalCollier

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- With an extra week of Spring Training this year due to the World Baseball Classic, the Nationals planned to ease Stephen Strasburg into Grapefruit League action.

But he is finally set to make his debut Friday afternoon against the Cardinals at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- With an extra week of Spring Training this year due to the World Baseball Classic, the Nationals planned to ease Stephen Strasburg into Grapefruit League action.

But he is finally set to make his debut Friday afternoon against the Cardinals at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

View Full Game Coverage

Strasburg threw 23 pitches last Thursday in the Nationals' intrasquad game and has continued to throw bullpen sessions since. He said he feels strong and is not feeling any lingering effects from the torn pronator tendon that ended his 2016 season prematurely.

Video: Outlook: Strasburg hoping to repeat first half of '16

The team also seems to be past those concerns.

"Last year's last year," manager Dusty Baker said. "It's gone. And I hope it never returns."

The Nats will make adjustments this spring and during the season with Strasburg in order to keep him healthy for a full season, pitching coach Mike Maddux said last week -- a product of getting to know the pitcher better after a year of working with him. The first half of last season gave Maddux a glimpse of what Strasburg can accomplish when he is healthy.

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"You know what, last year he started off 13-0. World beater. He's capable of that," Maddux said. "You can't get better than what he was doing. How many players have had that run? Not many. He's got plus-talent. He's capable of that. He's capable of doing things that other people can't."

Worth noting

Max Scherzer was scheduled to throw another bullpen session Thursday, an extended session of about 60 or 70 pitches. He is still using a modified grip for his fastball where he uses three fingers instead of the usual two to help alleviate the pressure on his injured right ring finger. Perhaps he could use that modified grip in a game.

"I think he could do that," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "I know that he's doing that to continue throwing and to keep his shoulder strong, preparing himself to pitch in the regular season. Seeing the ball come out of his hand the way he's throwing it, I think it works well for him to A) keep his shoulder in top form to prepare for the season, and B) if he has to resort to that, he can."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Stephen Strasburg