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Riggleman calls modern pitch limits "kind of a joke"

If there's ever been a time when the Nationals have been a larger presence in the national media, I can't remember it. This week has to trump anything but Opening Day from 2005, and probably even that. The Nats have moved up to the seventh-most popular MLB team in the ticket resale market, according to SeatGeek, which says June 8 tickets are averaging $105.87, more than twice the Natsa Park season average. And Nats players and coaches are showing up in every national media venue.

Thursday morning, Jim Riggleman got nearly five minutes on ESPN's First Take, where his most interesting comments concerned the lengths the club will go to preserve Stephen Strasburg's health.

"We'll be very careful, but you've got to let him pitch," Riggleman said. "So we'll put some caps on the innings as far as how many innings we're gonna let him get during the course of the season. As far as the pitches, we haven't specifically talked about it yet, but I imagine that it'll be very, very seldom that we'd let him get up around 100 pitches. I think baseball purists through the years hearing me say that are probably cringing -- including myself having to say it. It's really kind of a joke, how much we cover ourselves by putting limitations on these pitchers, but that's today's world. And I'm happy to be the guy who gets to make that call. I'm loving this ballclub here, how hard we play, and he'll be a nice addition to it."

(That reminded me of Bob Feller's recent comments to Phil Wood, when asked about pitch counts:

"We wouldn't have known what those were when I played," he said. "If you kept getting the other side out, you stayed in the game."

Ah, the old times.)

Riggleman also channeled Gene Hackman as Norman Dale, when asked what he'd say to Strasburg on Tuesday.

"I don't think I can say much that anybody else hasn't already said," Riggleman said. "I think at this point, the less we say the best. The one thing I say to every pitcher who ever comes up is, I say how far is that plate from the pitching mound down there in the minor leagues? And they say '60 feet 6 inches.' And I say, Well that's what it is here too, so I think you'll be all right. And I don't know if that helps 'em or not, but that's about the only advice I can give 'em."


On how he's never seen anything like this hype: "It's off the charts. I've never seen anything like it. It's a little bit of an uneasy feeling for the player himself, that's the way I feel about it. He's handled everything great, the attention, he's been very humble and he's deflected a lot of the attention to his teammates and his coaches and so forth, but I'm a little concerned for him to go out there with all this hype and media that's gonna be here. But I think he and everybody else will be glad to get that first one out of the way."

On his expectations: "I personally I don't have any expectations, I'm just looking forward to putting him out there, just to have another good arm to challenge these hitters in the league. Not so much expectations, but if I had a wish list, I just would hope that he can go through the remainder of the season, make his starts, stay healthy, learn the hitters, just do everything that other pitchers do. But certainly you can't help but dream a little bit and hope that this guy ends up being one of the star pitchers in baseball. But he's got to go out there and throw his first pitch first, and when he does that, we'll all get a better read on it. I just really want him to be healthy and build on what he did last year, maybe get 150, 160 innings this year, build it up to maybe 175 or 180 next year, and then let his career take off."

On managing the Nats: "Any managing job is great. I mean, these jobs are few and far between, they're precious positions in the game and you cherish it. You hope you can win enough ball games to hold onto it....I'm loving live, getting the opportunity to do this."

By Dan Steinberg  |  June 3, 2010; 2:21 PM ET
Categories:  Media , Nats  
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Tell that to Mark Prior.

Posted by: mkremnitzer0 | June 3, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

I am sure I am not the only one who paid more attention to the in-game-blog about SS and his last minor league game. Can you believe another 2 errors today at short? How can the team win with such poor fielding??

Posted by: justaguy43 | June 3, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately for Jim, Dusty Baker completely agrees with him. Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, fortunately for Steven Strasburg, don't.

Posted by: MACCHAMPS04 | June 3, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

If the Nats ever dump him, sounds like Riggleman would fit right in with the Rangers, working for Nolan Ryan.

Posted by: rooster75 | June 4, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

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