Strasburg promoted to Triple-A Syracuse

UPDATE AT 5:13 p.m.: Busy day here today. Mike Rizzo held court a while ago and gave some thoughts on Strasburg’s promotion. Here are the highlights:

--Rizzo was mum on where the Strasburg plan goes from here. He’ll make his first start on Friday night, and will “continue to work on some of the things we asked him to work on in Double-A. He’ll get a taste of a little more veteran presence, a little more veteran players and hitters, and we’ll see where that takes him.” Manager Jim Riggleman, though, might have dropped a big hint about Strasburg’s major-league arrival. “I’ve heard June whatever,” Riggleman said. “Time goes by quick. It’ll happen soon enough.” The conventional wisdom has Strasburg making five or six starts at Syracuse and coming up to the majors during the June 4-10 homestand, probably against the Reds on June 5 or 6 (Byron Kerr laid that timetable out in greater detail here). But Rizzo wasn’t biting. “That’s your wisdom,” he said. “I’ve never said anything to that effect.”

--Strasburg will go six innings and throw 85-90 pitches on Friday at Syracuse, whichever comes first.

--Rizzo said Strasburg was happy when he was told he was headed to Triple-A. “I think he’s excited for the new challenge. It’s a step in the direction that he wants to be in,” Rizzo said. “His confidence level is high. He believes he can be pitching in the big leagues right now. That’s the confidence level we want him to be at. But he understands we’re doing what’s best for him, and what’s best for the franchise and the organization. He’s on board with every step.”

--Strasburg has “done everything he can do at the Double-A level,” Rizzo said. But he didn’t say the plan was always five starts at Harrisburg. “It’s flexible and fluid. There are no definitives,” he said. The Nationals want him to continue working on the same things he was doing at Harrisburg -- holding runners, fielding his position, learning to hit, etc. He’ll be regimented to pitching every fifth day, Rizzo said.

--Drew Storen is off to a good start at Syracuse, Rizzo said; he’s been up to 96 mph on the radar gun and is sitting at 94-95 mph fairly consistently. But his arrival in the majors isn’t “wedded” to Strasburg’s, Rizzo said. “Their pitching plans are unique, as are all our developmental plans for our players and pitchers,” he said. “They happen to be accelerated-type of draft choices from last year’s draft. Drew going a little bit before Stras was just a happenstance. We felt Drew did what he had to do to be ready to pitch at the next level.”

Wouldn’t you know it? I’m getting some work done on my car, and the one half-hour of the day I’m away from my computer, the Nationals put out the press release they’re promoting Stephen Strasburg.

Oh well. This isn’t exactly a big surprise; it’s been long-expected Strasburg would make five starts at Double-A Harrisburg before heading to Triple-A Syracuse, which is what he’ll do now. He will pitch for the Chiefs against Gwinnett, the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate on Friday.

If the plan holds to what everybody’s expected, he’d make five starts at Syracuse before joining the Nationals the first weekend in June.

I’ll have much more on this later today, including reaction from GM Mike Rizzo. Right now, though, it’s time to get off the sample laptops in Best Buy before the sales people get curious about what’s going on...

UPDATE AT 5:13 p.m.: Busy day here today. Mike Rizzo held court a while ago and gave some thoughts on Strasburg’s promotion. Here are the highlights: