Strasburg gets in his final work of spring, final cuts coming soon

VIERA, Fla. - Instead of making the trip all the way to Jupiter to throw just a few meaningless innings the day before the Nationals leave Florida, Stephen Strasburg got in his final spring frames over on the minor league side today.

Facing a lineup made up of members of the Nats' Triple-A team, Strasburg's outing was largely uneventful. He allowed back-to-back softly hit singles in one inning, one off the bat of Will Rhymes, drawing a frustrated swipe of the glove from Strasburg.

Strasburg went five innings, allowed five hits and no runs and struck out five.

Catcher Kurt Suzuki, who caught all eight innings in Jupiter yesterday, made the morning trek over to the minor league fields to catch Strasburg. Suzuki ended up giving way to Jhonatan Solano after getting hit in the knee, but he was in good spirits afterward, and pulled a stool up to Strasburg in the Nats' clubhouse to discuss the right-hander's outing.

Strasburg's spring ends with an 0-3 record and a 4.62 ERA in 25 1/3 Grapefruit League innings, not that those numbers mean anything. He struck out 31 and walked seven.

It was a strong spring for Strasburg, who comes into this year hoping to become a workhorse in his first full major league season.

Manager Davey Johnson said that he plans to go north with his 25-man roster already set, meaning that the Nats' final round of cuts will come either after today's game or sometime tomorrow.

Johnson also said that right-hander Christian Garcia has been cleared to start playing catch Monday, this after being held out of action since Feb. 21 because of a partially torn tendon in his right forearm.

The Nationals came into camp intending to stretch Garcia out and turn him into a starter, this after he had made the major leagues late last season and had a lot of success as a one-inning reliever. Despite Garcia needing to sit out nearly the entire spring, that's still the Nats' plan when it comes to Garcia.

"I still am not going to change my opinion of what I think he should be," Johnson said. "I like his stuff as a starter. The failsafe plan is to go back to relieving, but big, strong guy like him, with his arsenal, we kind of wasted him (as a one-inning guy)."

Asked by a reporter what he wants to see out of Henry Rodriguez in the flame-throwing righty's outing today, Johnson smiled.

"Strikes," he said simply.

Yeah, that would be good.

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