The Nats are playing at home tonight after a disappointing 1-5 road trip through Cleveland and Detroit. Rookie righty Stephen Strasburg takes the mound for the third time in his major league career.
The way he carries himself, you wouldn't think he was just a rookie. Despite all the hype and his early success (2 wins, 22 Ks and NL Player of the Week honors) he really has been low key. He's a quiet but confident 21-year-old.
You would think all the exposure and attention would go to his head but it hasn't. Yet, he does recognize that what he is experiencing is something special. He told me it will be great to tell grandchildren someday about going on the David Letterman Show, along with being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. In the meantime he's focusing on pitching and helping his team win.
He told me he's looking forward to this start at Nationals Park. During his debut on June 8, the Nats had a full house, and it was the largest crowd Strasburg ever pitched in front of. He admitted he was locked into the game and that he didn't really notice the fans until the end of the seventh inning; but it was special to get a standing ovation on his way to the bullpen before the game started and also to be urged to give a curtain call.
Strasburg also appreciates being able to throw to a future Hall of Famer in catcher Pudge Rodriguez. He said it was an amazing way to start his career; he's learned so much from him and he's excited to throw to him again.
More than likely that will happen tonight when the Nats host the White Sox, a ballclub Strasburg describes as a good team with a lot of good bats. His game plan is simple: he's going to try go out and execute his pitches the way he can. And, if all goes well, we'll have another Friday delight at Nationals Park. Do stay tuned!