PHILADELPHIA - Stephen Stasburg threw a bullpen session earlier today at Citizens Bank Park, and all went well.
The Nationals’ ace felt no effects from his last outing, in which he was pulled after five innings due to fatigue, and said he felt “great” during today’s mound session. He will make his next planned start, this Saturday against the Braves.
Strasburg thinks that if he wasn’t coming back off Tommy John surgery, he would’ve been allowed to stay in the game on Sunday, even after feeling the fatigue that he experienced. But the 23-year-old understands that due to his injury history and the timetable the team has for pitchers coming off Tommy John, the Nationals will be careful with him.
“I try not to think about it too much out there and just pitch,” Strasburg said. “But, I feel like there’s some times where I feel like it’s better to take me out a little bit earlier than a little bit later. It’s a long season, so (we’re) definitely trying to maximize the innings this year.”
Strasburg commented after Sunday’s outing that he thought the fatigue came on because he worked a bit too hard leading up to that start, trying to overcome a poor performance his previous time out against the Padres. That’s something he knows he can’t do going forward.
“I’ve just got to stay with the program and trust it,” Strasburg said. “Not try to flip the script when I don’t pitch well. Whether it’s lights out and you’re hitting all your spots (during a bullpen session) or you’re not, you’ve got to remember it’s just mound time. You can’t go out there and try and strike out all these hitters in the bullpen.”
Meanwhile, tonight will be the first time Bryce Harper will face Phillies starter Cole Hamels since the intentional-plunking incident back on May 6.
The Nationals seem to have completely put the dramatics from that day behind them, and don’t expect any carryover from that day into tonight’s ballgame.
“No I don’t,” manager Davey Johnson said. “I think that’s a dead issue. The only thing that exacerbated it is (Hamels) saying something. He didn’t headhunt or nothing like that. He hit one of my good hitters in the back. It didn’t bother my guy, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s just an off-the-cuff remark from a left-handed pitcher.
“This game is more important than that little incident, so it’s passed us.”