Stephen Strasburg met with the media for about five minutes this afternoon for a day-after look at his first start in the majors. And though the entire town was still talking about the rookie phenom’s 14-strikeout debut, Strasburg wasn’t buying into his own hype.
“It’s just another ballgame, hopefully the first of many,” Strasburg said. “Just come out here and try to get better.”
Manager Jim Riggleman was more effusive in his praise, saying the start was “amazing” because of what Strasburg did in the face of round-the-clock hype before the start. “Right now, all the highlights are Lakers-Celtics and Stephen Strasburg because that’s’ the biggest things that happened last night,” Riggleman said. “So I’m not surprised because of what he did. The surprise would be how much attention was on the buildup.”
But either none of that interested Strasburg, or he didn’t want to admit it.
“I try and stick away from all the media stuff, so I really don’t know what you’re referring to,” Strasburg said. “I’m excited to be up here, I;m excited to be with this group of players. We got a lot of talent up here and we’re all trying to come together and win some ballgames. That’s the bottom line.”
Could he feel his teammates feeding off the energy? “I don’t think it’s anything unusual, you know. I did start to see that, especially in the games I pitched, it seemed guys stepped up the intensity level down in the minor leagues, especially being in front of a big crowd. It’s obviously great to see and hopefully we can keep it rolling here.”
How about the curtain call after the seventh inning? “I’m pretty new to this scene. I know my place. Obviously, I’m a rookie here and the last thing I want to do is cause some problems in the clubhouse by, you know, tipping my cap when I shouldn’t. They felt like it was the right time, so I did it.”
He wouldn’t say who told him to step up and tip his cap. “It’s not that big of a deal,” he said.
Not biting there, either, huh? Hmm...watch any TV this week? “I used to watch ‘SportsCenter’ all the time. Now there’s just too much to watch, so I’m trying to find new channels to watch. When you come here every day, it can be pretty wearing at times. It’s nice to get away now and then and kind of relax and not think about baseball.”
You get the point. Strasburg didn’t want to make any waves, and is mostly concerned with settling into a routine. Surrounded by reporters and TV cameras in the Nationals’ dugout, the rookie seemed a tad agitated by the interviews, and only broke a smile when Livan Hernandez popped in, grabbed a TV microphone and asked Strasburg a question.
But he clearly expects to pitch this well routinely, and saw no reason for the extra attention. To him, the debut wasn’t even worthy of a celebration last night.
“Just went home,” he said.”You guys kept me here ‘til midnight. I needed some sleep.”
Well, by my watch, we were done talking to Strasburg by 10 p.m. But what’s a couple hours?