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Steve McCatty supportive of Stephen Strasburg's contributions to calling game

In Stephen Strasburg's last start, he helped call his game and earned his first win in nearly a month. It was something pitching coach Steve McCatty had hoped Strasburg would do even earlier this season.

"I've been talking to him the last four starts about doing that," McCatty said. "Like I told him, it's not about strength and weaknesses. You go with your strength. There's an idea what you're looking for. What I wanted to do is go out there, and if there's something you don't want to throw, shake. As a young guy, the first few times, he didn't want to do it. I was more stressful the last week about it, and he also made a call and talked to somebody else, but you got to be what you are."

Strasburg said he called his college pitching coach and made the determination that "If they're going to beat me, they're going to beat me on me calling my own game."

McCatty said it's an issue all young pitchers deal with, and it comes at different points in a rookie's season -- or sometimes even a few seasons. With veteran Ivan Rodriguez as the Nationals' top catcher (although Wil Nieves caught Friday's start), McCatty said it can become even more difficult for a pitcher to be assertive.

"Sometimes, as a young guy, it takes time to finally make that decision," McCatty asaid. "A lot of times young guys won't do it for a couple years. And you have a future Hall of Famer back there in Pudge. And not to say Pudge is doing the wrong thing, but you're trying to work with a guy, and he's got to do what he wants to do. So, you get a little intimidated and don't have the conviction in your pitches. But you got to throw what you want to throw. I keep telling him and telling him, and he finally did it."

McCatty emphasized to Strasburg to "throw what you want to throw." He saw Strasburg mix in his curveball at different spots. McCatty said Strasburg felt "good" about himself after the game and is learning and understanding about pitching in the majors.

"You throw what you want to throw," McCatty said. "You don't work with the catcher. The catcher works with you."

During the season, the signals come from the catcher and only occasionally from the dugout. McCatty said not every decision Strasburg made Friday was perfect, and that he learned throughout the game. McCatty and Strasburg discussed throughout the game the different decisions made.

"If you're out there and not shaking your head to throw what you want, you're a knucklehead," McCatty said. "You got to do it. There were great catchers who knew everything. Now, if you trust everything the guy says and have conviction with it, then you make better pitches. But if it's not what you want to throw and throw it, then it's not the same. We told him, 'Go do what you want to do.' And if somebody shakes their head, don't worry about it."

Strasburg starts again on Friday against the Florida Marlins.

By Zach Berman  |  July 15, 2010; 4:50 PM ET
Categories:  Stephen Strasburg  
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Next: Stephen Strasburg ready to start second half

Comments

Wonder how much some of the other pitchers would get away with shaking off Pudge. McCatty seems to be including all pitchers, but ...

Posted by: marathoner | July 15, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-Well, I never made it down to Woodbridge to see JZimm last night....I gave up after being stuck just trying to cross the 14th street bridge! Maybe a spillover of frustration with our beloved team....a seemingly endless traffic jam with the promise of movement just ahead... Once again, the start of the "second half" with more gnawing anxiety.Will we keep Dunn/Hammer? Will Nyjer get it together? Or Lannan, or Ian or Flores?What about our Wang gambit? And Harper and Solis and Cole-more nail-biting?
In '05 there was the worry that we'd fall back-but the season was already a "success",if you will. A quantitatively different kind of intrigue.
Yes, the next few weeks (and months)may reveal to us the answers to lots of our questions regarding where this team is going, or how it plans on getting there. Unfortunately, I'm worried that my worst expectations will be bolstered rather than my hopes bolstered.Reading across the web from other cities' writers (national types, too)seems to indicate an organization trying to do its' best while being hamstrung by an ownership still not able to see the forest for the trees. Notice I'm not calling the Slows CHEAP-it may be by residue rather than design. Alas, the end result...well-I'm the 85 wins+ guy!Lets see....that means we finish 45 wins, 28 losses. As I recall, that's close to what we did in that magical 1st half in 2005. We got your backs, guys....just hope the Slows do, too!
And someone wake me when it's Friday-this has been THE longest A.S. break I can remember...I suppose that in itself is an indication that we're a much improved team
Or that I've just gotten loonier the longer we've had a team....
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | July 15, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Good idea there. Strasburg is so tough, if he throws a pitch with conviction, he's that much tougher. I can't believe he's as tough a competitor as he is at this stage. The guy is fully cooked. You can't teach that but it can be learned.

Posted by: Brue | July 15, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

>Or that I've just gotten loonier the longer we've had a team....
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo

You mean you weren't always this crazy?

Posted by: Brue | July 15, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

zendo:
You're a madman (in a good way). nationalsprospects.com, federalbaseball.com & natsnewsnetwork.blogspot.com all have summaries on the game, if you haven't caught up on JZimm's outing already.

The angst over Dunn & Willingham may stay with us for another two weeks, and could truly prove the slow Lerners commitment to the team (and fan community) as well. We'll see how that plays out. As an old saying goes, "Sometimes, you have to spend money to make money".

On the draft picks, I think that Kline & Rizzo will get deals done for Harper, Solis & Grace - Cole, I'm not so sure about, since reports have him already in school at "the U". Can't understand why Smalling (12th round, VaTech Jr) hasn't signed yet; If he returns to school, he'd be a 23yo senior, with no contract leverage at all.

Posted by: BinM | July 15, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm of the opinion that Strasburg trusts Rodriguez to call a solid game, but McCatty might want Strasburg to take more control in critical moments. I'd doubt that either Pudge or Wil would pull a "Crash Davis" on him, unless he got too headstrong. ... "Here comes the deuce; And when you speak of me, speak of me kindly".

Posted by: BinM | July 15, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Here's another look at the same issue

http://natsfangirls.com/2010/07/11/young-stephen-to-call-his-own-games/

Jenn

Posted by: jenjensn | July 15, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

The job of the pitching coach imho is to make sure the youngin's build confidence, know the league and it's hitters,"trust their stuff" develop an outpitch that works and make sure the catchers know the opposing lineups so as to not allow the youngin's to work themselves into trouble. Steve McCatty is average at best,i look at what F.Robby and Randy St.Claire did in 05 with not much other than Livo and a cast of wannabe's and at the numbskull we had here for two years and now with Mr. I don't wanna rock the boat(Riggleman) and just shake my head.

Posted by: dargregmag | July 15, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

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