Fresh off an appearance on Baseball Tonight, Stephen Strasburg continued a media slate wholly incongruous with a 37-pitch bullpen session, meeting a while ago with about a dozen reporters across various media in the Nationals' dugout.
Strasburg said all the right things: he refrained from putting expectations on his season, said he was fine starting the year in the minors, talked only of wanting to do his best, etc. From a baseball standpoint, the most interesting development was something catcher Derek Norris pointed out earlier in the morning - that Strasburg's two-seam fastball is quickly developing into a deadly pitch.
The sinking fastball is a pitch Strasburg has thrown all along, but he spent quite a bit of time on it over the fall and winter, and Norris said the pitch sinks much harder than it did when he caught Strasburg last fall in instructional league.
"It's incredible," Norris said. "It's almost like a lefty slider."
Strasburg said Single-A Potomac pitching coach Paul Menhart worked with him on the pitch in the Arizona Fall League, and as good as his four-seam fastball is, the 21-year-old seems to know it's not nearly enough to get by in the majors. There's been some talk that his four-seamer tends to flatten out from time to time, so Strasburg is trying to refine the two-seamer and his changeup, which in turn will make his two best pitches - the four-seamer and his slider - less vulnerable.
"It's a part of being a pitcher," he said. "With a wood bat, if you can locate a good two-seam fastball, you can get right in on their hands all day. If you can learn to command it, it's another pitch in your repertoire. Obviously, you want to throw a four-seam, two-seam. You've just got to show a hitter all these different looks and keep them off-balance."
Asked how he felt about the possibility of starting in the minors, Strasburg said, "They have a plan for me. I trust that they're going to handle me the right way. You've just got to worry about what you can control, and that's going out there and helping your team win the ballgame...I feel like everybody in here, if you're invited to big league camp, it's competition. No matter where somebody thinks you're going to be at, you want to compete with the guys around you. It's a natural instinct, being an athlete. You've got to be competitive."
If you're interested, the full audio of Strasburg's media session is available here.