Strasburg sees room for improvement
By Anthony Chiang / Special to MLB.com | 03/09/12 11:30 PM EST
JUPITER, Fla. -- After completing his second Spring Training start on Friday, Stephen Strasburg sees some room for improvement.
Although he turned in a strong three innings of work, Washington's right-hander was not pleased with a defensive play he made on a routine ground ball that resulted in him bobbling it and throwing it away.
"I felt good," said Strasburg, who kept his velocity around the mid-90s Friday. "I was commanding my pitches a lot better [than my first start]. I just have to do some PFP [pitchers fielding practice] and adjust off of that."
Strasburg allowed two runs on three hits and struck out two batters during his three innings on the mound in a 3-0 loss to the Marlins, as he continues to try to prove he has fully recovered from Tommy John surgery.
"He's kind of a perfectionist, but I thought he threw the ball good," manager Davey Johnson said. "All of his pitchers were working.
"I told him, 'This is a process. You're just getting in shape to pitch.' But I was pleased with the way he threw."
After breezing through the first two innings and retiring six of the first seven hitters he faced Friday, Strasburg ran into trouble in the third.
The frame began with Marlins left fielder Bryan Petersen reaching first due to Strasburg's defensive misstep, and finished with Jose Reyes lining an RBI triple just past the glove of center fielder Rick Ankiel, and Emilio Bonifacio also driving in a run with a single. "They tell you when you get a ball hit hard at you and you bobble it or whatever, take your time," Strasburg said. "And I was a little sped up, so I fielded it, I went to pick it up, and I just turned and I saw a lot of red and I decided to throw it at Petersen. It was just something I could learn from."
Strasburg was on a pitch count of 60 entering the contest, but Johnson decided to pull him after just 46 because of a heavy workload of 23 pitches in the third inning. Strasburg threw in the bullpen right after his start to get the rest of those pitches in.
The next time out, Johnson said Strasburg will throw around 70 to 75 pitches.
One thing the hard-throwing right-hander did this time around was find his curve ball. After not throwing many in his first Spring Training start, he "trusted" it Friday, striking out Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton with the pitch in the second inning.
But pitching coach Steve McCatty doesn't want Strasburg falling in love with his offspeed stuff.
"I just want to keep his strength his fastball and for him to use that first," McCatty said. "One thing with Stephen and all of his stuff, I still want him to use more fastballs than offspeed."
However, when it was done, the Nationals were just happy that Strasburg was still on the right track after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2010.
"I felt a lot more under control out there [than my first Spring Training start]," Strasburg said. "I was a little jumpy the first start, and this start I was able to feel it coming out of my hand and locate it a lot better."