Stammen ready to take next step vs. Astros Thursday

Nationals pitcher Craig Stammen checked in to talk about his first outing and the strides he's making heading into his second game against the Astros on Thursday.

Stammen says the jitters from his first outing are out of the way and his bullpen session went very well on Monday.

On his first outing:

"I felt good. It was nice for me to pitch without pain and be at full strength and let some things go a little bit. I'm kind of pitching with a new arm a little bit. It took a little time to get used to that.

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"It was positive to go out there and be 100 percent physically. I have to make some adjustments mechanically and mentally. It didn't quite go my way but it is early in spring."

Testing out the arm - that's what spring training is for, right?:

"The trainer told me 'We knew this would happen, we didn't tell you, and you have to figure it out for yourself.' I threw a good bullpen (Monday). It went well, I figured some things out, and should be a lot better the next time out.

"It has a lot to do with my release point. Your pitching mechanics kind of determine where your release point is going to be. I was a little jacked up for the game. You can pitch as many bullpens or (simulation) games that you want but it is not the same in a live game.

"That is something I hadn't done yet since the surgery. You never know how your body is going to respond to it. Is your body going to remember how you did it two years ago or is it going to remember how you did everything last year? Last year was a little bit different than in the past because I had to compensate.

"The ball was up the whole first game. Probably it had a lot to do with my release point and being able to get the ball down and get it where I want it to go.

"Everything was better in the bullpen today. I have to mentally tell myself to calm down a little bit and not try to overthrow which was a little bit a part of it. I just need to let my ability take over and let it happen.

What about all the runs the team is giving up early on; is that a concern?:

"I think you get one freebie and then the rest of the time it's back to the normal: You have to get everyone out. And it wasn't like I wasn't trying to get everyone out. It just wasn't working out for me, I didn't have the good stuff that day.

"I think the rest of the way we have to be locked in and do a little bit better job than what we have been doing."

How is Stephen Strasburg doing?

"He' a good kid. He is handling everything very well. He is going about his business. There is a lot of attention placed on Stephen. He is very humble. It is a lot of stuff I don't think he really wants to deal with but he is does and he is handling it well.

"We are all looking forward to seeing him pitch (today). He is an especially talented kid."

What would you like to do vs. the Astros Thursday?

"When you get the first game going, the hardest thing is getting mentally prepared for it because you have been training your body the whole off season and getting your arm in shape.

"You haven't mentally trained your brain to get ready for game situations and facing big league hitters. That was part of what was happening in the first outing. I need to get that back in my head and figure it out. I will be a lot better the second time."

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