Manager Davey Johnson confirmed that he, general manager Mike Rizzo and pitching coach Steve McCatty met with Stephen Strasburg about shutting the right-hander down for the season.
“We were able to have a nice little conversation,. He hates McCatty more than before the meeting, and me and Rizzo,” Johnson said with a laugh. “It is not secret that Stras is an intense competitor. He wants to be here, wants to be contributing, wants to be helping.”
Johnson said the shutdown is tough and will be tough for Strasburg to go through, especially when he sits in the dugout and clubhouse in late September.
“It is probably eating him up more than anyone else involved in this whole thing because he wants to help his teammates,” Johnson said. “He has worked harder than anyone coming back from that surgery. This is what you dream about being a part of. I know how he feels.”
Johnson even admitted it all doesn’t make complete sense, especially with the way he seems to be getting stronger, evidenced by Sunday’s performance of six innings, two hits and no runs allowed to go with nine strikeouts.
“I’m not sure any of us understand,” Johnson said. “But it is the right thing to do.”
Johnson said the reason behind the move is not for just 2012, but for the Nationals of 2013 through 2017 and beyond.
“The way I look at things, the job the Lerners and the front office have done to build this organization, I don’t look at things as the only chance you are going to get to be in the postseason and be in the World Series,” Johnson said. “This team wasn’t just piecemealed together for just one year. It is built to last. And we are trying to make sure it lasts.”
Johnson follows what all the so-called experts say about Strasburg and his shutdown date, and alternate scenarios of pitching him out of the bullpen or skipping starts would do more harm than good.
“I have listened to all the gurus, and I have had al the advice, and none of it made much sense. (Gurus have suggested) using him different than I have used him,” Johnson said. “He is not a No. 5 starter, he is a No. 1 starter. It is more detrimental to miss a start. (They say) push him back, push him back.
“That is more dangerous to the health of a pitcher. This is his first full year in the big leagues. It is a big increase in innings. There are tons of records to validate this decision.”