Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post last month about how Strasburg is getting in such good shape that he has six-pack abdominal muscles.
McCatty said at first he didn’t believe it, so he decided to set up a friendly wager with Strasburg.
“We have a bet,” McCatty told me. “Strassy and I have a bet. He told me he is coming into camp in the best shape of his life. I said, ‘OK, does that mean you have a six-pack?’ He started to laugh and then he said, ‘Yeah!’ I said, ‘OK, I got $100 that says you don’t.’ And he said, ‘OK.’
“I said, ‘If you come into camp with a six-pack, I owe you $100. But if you come into camp without a six-pack, you owe me $100,000 because that is like $100 to you’. I told him, ‘Strassy, I am in a great position. If you come in with a six-pack, I am not paying you anyway.’ So it is kind of a running joke.”
But in all seriousness, McCatty said Strasburg is attacking his rehabilitation like he attacks opposing hitters.
“He is doing great,” McCatty said. “His attitude is the thing I am impressed with because whatever he does he wants to be the best at it. He is working extremely hard so far.”
Strasburg has not only gotten his body in top shape, he is also taking better care of himself, including kicking the smokeless tobacco habit.
“He is says he is stopping the dipping,” McCatty said. “He is going to quit chewing tobacco. That takes a lot of willpower. He has got some obstacles ahead of him, but he seems to be facing the challenges on all of them. He has got a great attitude.”
McCatty said Strasburg is excited about heading to Viera, Fla., and is comfortable with the plan the team has laid out for him.
“He wants to learn,” McCatty said. “He is so quiet. People kind of think he is not watching, but that is what he does. He watches, he observes the game. He wants to learn. He wants to be the best at it.”
McCatty said because Strasburg is such a quiet guy, not many get to see the pitcher’s playful side.
“He has got a great sense of humor,” McCatty said of Strasburg. “He is not really a joke teller, but he will laugh at himself in a heartbeat. I told him, ‘You are going to be my (Ross) Detwiler this year in spring training. Wherever I am at, you are going to be (there).’ ”