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Strasburg Q and A

Here is the promised Q and A with Strasburg. He sat in the dugout and took questions wearing a Nats jersey, jeans and UnderArmour shoes (I think; I'm no shoe expert). There were maybe 10 journalists asking questions. There are at least two questions that I THINK will make you guys howl, but they aren't mine. I swear. See if you can spot 'em.

What are you looking forward to most about Friday night?
Being able to pitch in a game with a little bit on the line. It's been a pretty long time since I've been able to do that and to be out here and be playing against some pretty good competition, I'm real excited to see what I can do.

What were you working on in Florida?
It was basically the instructional league so you're going to be doing a lot of drills, pitcher's fielding practice every day, bunt defense, covering bases, backing up bases. Just really learning what the organization wants you to know as far as the fundamentals go. Just getting my arm back in shape and getting ready for the Arizona Fall League.

What do you hope to get out of the Arizona Fall League?
I've thrown five professional innings. I definitely want to throw a few more and learn as much as I can. There's a great coaching staff from a lot of different organizations as well as a lot of top prospects from all the organizations so I really just want to learn from every single one of them.

Did you enjoy your time off this summer?
It felt great. I think it was good to have a summer to myself for probably one last time for a while. It's great to be back out here and I'm starting to get that fever back.

What did you do this summer?
A lot of the stuff I was doing was stuff that any tourist in San Diego would want to do. Those things are what I wanted to do because I'm not going to have that opportunity too many times in the future.

Body surfing?
I stayed away from the beach, actually. It was way too crowded. I did a little deep sea fishing, played a lot of golf, visited with my family.

Are you making any changes in your approach switching from metal to wood bats?
I'm not really going to change anything. I didn't really try to pitch like you would in college. A lot of college pitchers live on the outer half because if you get it on the inner half you're going to get beat with an aluminum bat. But I was able to be successful on the inner half in college. My whole goal is to carry over what I was focusing on at school and keep trying to do it here at this level.

Was there a conscious decision to have you take that approach?
Yeah, that's where you make your money, on the inside corner. When hitters get comfortable you get in trouble so you have to keep them off-balance.

Who taught you that?
It was a combination. [San Diego State pitching coach] Rusty Filter helped me a lot with that. He's one of the big influences as far as my progression in pitching, especially from my freshman year to my junior year. He's taught me a lot of great things and the things he taught me are going to carry over at this level.

Coaches say that between freshman and sophomore year you came back a completely different person. True?
I wouldn't say I was a different person by any means. I think I definitely learned how to approach baseball more professionally and obviously having a Hall of Famer as a coach and a guy who's considered to be the ultimate professional, really just looking at the way Coach Gwynn went about his business and the way Coach Filter went about his business really opened my eyes to what I needed to do to be successful.

What was it like playing for Tony Gwynn?
It was absolutely amazing. I was there my freshman year when he got inducted into the Hall of Fame and to see all the media and all the Padres fans coming out to the games to support him. Just to listen to him talking about hitting; being a pitcher you really can't learn to much but it's good to know what the good hitters are thinking because all good hitters think like Tony Gwynn.

What is in store for you in 2010?
I'm not going to put any expectations on myself. I just want to come out here every day and learn as much as I can. The pro game is different than college. You're pitching every five days instead of once a week. So that's a big thing I'm going to focus on, is getting my body in shape to endure a long season.

Being around your teammates here, do you feel like you've missed out on anything with the minor league experience?
It's tough to say. I'm fresh out of college, fresh out of signing. It's amazing to see how small the baseball community is. I think there are five San Diego State players in this Arizona Fall league alone. It's great to see some guys that I've played with in the past and play on the same team as some guys I've played against in the past. It's neat how everybody's paths cross.

Do you have a target for innings?
I don't have a personal target by any means. I just want to go out there and try and help this Desert Dogs team win some ballgames.

How about for Friday night?
I think right now, it would probably be a little bit more than three innings because I threw three last time out [last Saturday]. I imagine it would be probably four innings.

How many pitches in your last outing in Kissimmee?
I don't know. I threw my three innings and hopped on a plane to San Diego.

Did you spend any of your bonus money in the offseason?
No. I'm just focusing on baseball right now. That's something I'll be able to take care of my family the rest of my life and the family I end up having, I'll be able to take care of them too. Just focused on baseball right now and trying to improve my game.

How close were you to not signing with the Nationals?
I guess it was close to 2 minutes, it could go either way. I really wasn't sure. I was hoping the deal was going to get done and I'm just thankful it did.

How do you feel about the attention?
It's been a little crazy the first few days. A lot of fans, a lot of autograph seekers. It's great to just be able to bring some sort of excitement to this fall league because obviously there are a lot of big league players that are in the big leagues right now and all stars that have all played in this Arizona Fall League and it's great to be a part of this league and see pretty good fan turnout.

How do you feel about being the focal point of attention?
It's great. It goes with the territory. Obviously being fresh off the draft and all the expectation and all the hype, it's to be expected but the bottom line is, I've got to take care of business out there on the field.

Are you getting used to it?
It's something that I've had to deal with for the last year, ever since coming off the Olympics. It's something that I'm learning to accept and embrace. I just want to go out there and pitch and if means I have to do a lot of stuff on the side, and promote a program, promote an organization, that's great, as long as I get to go out there and help the team win some ball games one day.

It's not like you didn't have a lot of attention in San Diego, right?
Absolutely. That was really exciting times for San Diego State, to be selling out every single Friday for the most part of the season, that was awesome.

Tony Gwynn said you put San Diego State on the map. Do you feel that way?
I'm just very thankful I was able to contribute to San Diego State. They're on the map, obviously. They're trying to get to the next stage, they want to go to the College World Series. I'm grateful to help the team get back to a regional for the first time in 18 years.

Did you get a feel for your future teammates in D.C.?
They were all very welcoming, they are really supportive, and they gave me a lot of good tips on what to expect.

How about your Nats teammates in Arizona?
They're all great guys. Obviously I've heard about a lot of them. To finally get a chance to play with them is a tremendous honor. These are hopefully going to be some of the guys I go up through the organization with and hopefully we're all playing up there together someday.

Has Derek Norris caught you?
He caught me my first outing in the instructional league.

Will velocity take awhile to get back?
I'm not worried about velocity, I'm just worried about going out there and executing pitches. Obviously professional hitters can hit a plus fastball over the middle of the plate so at this point it's about remembering to locate and go out there a pitch.

Coach Menhart praised your changeup; do you plan to mix that in?
It's always been there. In college I was able to kind of dominate hitters with the fastball/slider combination. The changeup's always been something that I've loved to throw; it's one of my better pitches but I just never had the need for it in college. I plan on throwing a lot of my pitches more.

Are you going to worry about results in Arizona?
No. Results are going to happen. A lot of things are out of your control. The only thing you can control is the time before the ball leaves your hand. You can't control anything that happens once it leaves your hand

Do you pattern yourself after any power pitchers?
I wouldn't say I model my game after anybody. I'm just trying to be myself out there.

What kind of hitter are you?
It's been awhile though we took some hacks in the instructional league and it's slowly starting to come back. I think it's going to be exciting. I loved to hit when I was younger but was never able to show Coach Gwynn that I could do it at the college level.

Are you still in touch with Coach Gwynn?
We talk every now and then. They're really busy right now preparing for next year. They've got a great group of guys so I'm really excited to head back there in the offseason. That's probably my plan for the offseason, is to go out there. They have pro guys who work out there in the fall every year. Great facilities, it's awesome because you kind of get to hang out with your old teammates who are in pro ball now and some of the guys who played before you. It's a nice little setup. Go out there and lift in the morning in the weight room at State, hitters go take BP, Gwynn will throw some days, pitchers can go out and play catch and hang out.

Will you stay the full six weeks in Arizona?
I can't really tell right now. I haven't thrown yet. I'm planning to be here the entire year but if I reach a certain amount of innings that they want me at early then maybe they'll send me home. But I'm really excited and hopefully we can get this Desert Dogs team back to a championship again.

Have the Nats told you if you'll report to the major or minor league camp in spring training?
No, not really. They've been great. They really just kind of want to ease me into this process. It's a big jump, especially for being a top prospect, they're just letting me feel things out and letting me get my feet wet. Just taking it one step at a time.

What do you think of Phoenix?
Phoenix is nice. Coming from Melbourne, it's pretty humid out there. You come out of the hotel in the morning and your sunglasses fog up immediately. It's nice to be out in a little bit of nicer weather. Phoenix isn't too far from San Diego and I kind of like this desert scene with the little mountains and the sand and the cactus. It's a pretty cool atmosphere.

By Tracee Hamilton  |  October 16, 2009; 8:30 AM ET
 
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Comments

You asked about hitting, didn't you? You want him to be the next Daniel Cabrera.

Posted by: nervousnatsfan | October 16, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Tracee asked the "body surfing" question as proxy for Steinberg. Admit it Tracee.

Posted by: joemktg1 | October 16, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad he didn't repeat his comment from last winter about his change-up, something like "I don't throw it in college because it's the only pitch slow enough to hit".

Came accross as a bit arrogant to me. I'm very curious to see how he doesn throwing his curve over the plate, Gwynn pointed that out as the biggest adjustment he'd have to make in pro ball vs college.

Posted by: estuartj | October 16, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Who was the guy that said he was going to use some of the money get his car fixed because the side mirror was falling off or something to that effect? Detwiler?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 16, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Tracee, it's bad form to start out an interview with a blatant lie.

"I'm no shoe expert."

Come on. You're a woman. It's in the chromosomes.

Posted by: gilbertbp | October 16, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

eh, not really, gilbert.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 16, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Tracee. I enjoyed it.

Posted by: twinbrook | October 16, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Tracee didn't ask the question "Has Derek Norris caught you" since she already knew the answer!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | October 16, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Awesome !!! Keep it coming.. BTW I love your columns...keep them coming, too.. Please !!!

Posted by: Berndaddy | October 16, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

New Tracee post up.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | October 16, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

No mountains down here, but I do have cactus plants in my yard here in S.C. Come over for a visit Stephen, I'll let you buy lunch.

Posted by: cokedispatch | October 16, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Strasburg sounded great. Tracee you should feel better that the humidity in Florida was mentioned again.

Posted by: djorl | October 16, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

If he doesn't like humidity, he's going to be in for a rude awakening once he makes here and pitches mid-June to the end of August. Sun glasses fogging up? Buddy, a Bermuda High afternoon here is worse than Cocoa in September/October.

Posted by: gmwelch | October 16, 2009 11:25 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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