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Stephen Strasburg to throw simulated game Thursday

Morning roundup

Walking out of the Nationals clubhouse lat Wednesday night, Willie Harris swatted away the question without equivocation. Hell, no, he didn't want to stand in the batter's box against Stephen Strasburg.

"I ain't coming here for that," Harris said. "I'm trying to get out of a slump, not in one."

Harris explained that, sure, if Strasburg pitched for another team he wouldn't mind stepping in under conditions other than a real game for scouting purposes. But he plays with Strasburg, and curiosity is not a factor strong enough to compel him to stand in against 100-mph fastballs and knee-knocking curves and change-ups that disappear.

But Thursday, some poor Nationals hitters - count on Justin Maxwell being one - will experience something close to what it's like to face Strasburg. At 1:30 p.m. local time, Strasburg will take the mound at Chase Field, an L-screen in front of him, and throw at full steam to batters standing underneath a batting cage.

Strasburg, mustering as much intensity as he can with no fans in the crowd and against a teammate, will pitch to batters. A coach will call balls and strikes while hitters stand in the box. They will probably not even swing more than once or twice; they're basically props.

Once Strasburg in finished with one "inning," he'll walk to the dugout and rest for a few moments, simulating the up-and-down nature of an actual game. Then he'll throw another "inning."

The results of the game will determine whether Strasburg starts as scheduled on Tuesday against the Marlins at Nats Park. Given the lack of trouble he's had with the rest of his routine - playing catch, lifting weights, a bullpen session - Strasburg should pass the test without problems.

As for the batters? Well, they might be the ones with problems.


Adam Dunn blasted two home runs as the Nationals beat the Diamondbacks 7-2 before a sparse crowd.


Syracuse was off. Jordan Zimmermann will start tonight.

Harrisburg 5, Binghamton 3 (10 innings): Danny Espinosa hit three home runs, including the game-winner in the 10th. Devin Ivay went 1 for 2 with two walks and a home run. Chuck James pitched three perfect innings for the win. In 15 games at Class AA, James is 7-0 with a 0.76 ERA.

Potomac was suspended while leading 8-2 after two innings. Derek Norris was 2 for 2 with a double and a home run. Daniel Lyons was 2 for 2 with a triple.

Hagerstown 2, Lexington 0: Making his first rehab start, Garrett Mock allowed no runs on one hit and one walk in three innings, striking out three. Rick Hague went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk.

Auburn 6, Vermont 3: David Freitas went 1 for 3 with a double. Blake Kelso went 1 for 3 with a triple.


Adam Dunn doesn't get distracted, Mark Zuckerman writes.

Nationals Enquirer has photographic evidence of what happens when Michael Morse's spikes meet Stephen Drew's forearm.

Jeff Bergin of Nationals Daily News wonders if it's time to see Danny Espinosa with the Nats.

By Adam Kilgore  |  August 5, 2010; 2:17 AM ET
Categories:  Stephen Strasburg  
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Next: Report: Nationals could leave spring training in Viera


After using four relievers last night, the Nats will probably have to send Balester out there at some point today. (Detwiler is our 5-inning starter today). Bang, zoom, I'll bet we see some fireworks.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | August 5, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

I just hope the D-Backs don't plunk Zim or Dunn. Drew seemed kind of angry at Morse after getting spiked, altho the slide was clean. Then with Reynolds having to leave the game, Arizona's sure to go after somebody.

Posted by: nats24 | August 5, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure ball 4 to Bernadina in the 5th inning last night wasn't a purpose pitch. That was first batter faced by a Dback reliever after Reynolds got beaned, and 3-0 pitches aren't typically fastballs aimed at someone's noggin.

Posted by: joebleux | August 5, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

I don't think Kirk Gibson is going to authorize a head or knees kind of pitch, but if I were asked to turn a double play today at 2B I would be quick and jump high. If someone takes a pitch in the ribs, rub some dirt on it and head to 1B.

Posted by: natbiscuits | August 5, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Balester has reportedly shaved off his porn star mustache. Probably did it so the Dbacks don't recognize him and retaliate. He already wears #99. Does he have access to Bowden's old Manny Ramirez wig? He might want to put that on too.

Posted by: FeelWood | August 5, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

On a bright note, with Maxwell on the roster Harris can say he's hitting 80 points higher then someone on our MLB roster

Posted by: SCNatsFan | August 5, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

In September Espinosa should be called up, We also should try Desi at 2nd base and use danny at SS. If that would workout the infield would be in great shape. resigning Dunn would go along way as well. The potential of Ramos, Dunn, Zimm, Espinosa, and Desi sounds promising.

Posted by: hansenjo | August 5, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

hansenjo, if Espinosa is nearing MLB status then we need to decide who plays where; with Desmond being as poor a fielder as he is changing him back and forth might just create additional problems.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | August 5, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Scnats, I agree with you flip floping the two would not be good for either. If it were to happen they would need to play there for the remainer on the season. We have a huge hole at 2nd with two good SS. One would think one of them needs a switch of position. Danny is a more pure SS than Desi.

Posted by: hansenjo | August 5, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Great article AK, thanks for the detail on what a simulated game means. Does anyone know how many pitches per inning he will throw? Is it a set number or does it depend on his command. Presumably he can't just pump nine pitches over the plate and call it an inning. Also, I'm not sure I get the reluctance of Harris to participate. It's not like he's expected to swing. Maybe it's a boring chore, but would it really make you uncomfortable to stand up there and watch SS do his thing? I'll volunteer if they need someone.

Now if it were Balestar throwing the simulated game, that would be another story.

Posted by: Section222 | August 5, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Ramos, Espinosa, Norris, Harper.

I gotta wear shades.

Posted by: Drew8 | August 5, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

@222: "Presumably he can't just pump nine pitches over the plate and call it an inning."

I don't know about that. If anyone can strike out the side on nine pitches, it's Strasburg...

Posted by: gilbertbp | August 5, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

@gilbertbp -- no doubt he can do it. In fact, he did it in his debut. I imagine (and hope) though that in this simulated game he would make more than 9 pitches an inning, and might even intentionally miss the plate a few times.

Posted by: Section222 | August 5, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

@gilbertbp: Rob Dibble did it in 1989. Just ask him about it. I'm sure he'd love to tell the story.

Posted by: SorenKierkegaard | August 5, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Any update - this was suppose to happen at 1:30pm EST?

Posted by: tcostant | August 5, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

1:30 local time. They're in AZ. Hasn't happened yet.

Posted by: hats4bats | August 5, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Will Sheinin be doing a simulated live-blog of the simulated game?

Posted by: Bethesdangit1 | August 5, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Good one, Bethesdangit1....

Posted by: baltova1 | August 5, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Sheinin's Washington Post paycheck this week will be simulated. His whining OTOH will be real.

Posted by: FeelWood | August 5, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

FeelWood, if Strasburg doesn't come back soon, Sheinin's book deal is going to be simulated...

Posted by: baltova1 | August 5, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Given the # of innings SS has thrown, it's already moved from Novel to Short Story.

Posted by: BinM | August 5, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Buster Olney tweeted that the Yankees had interest in Willie Harris before the trade deadline. Would love to know what they offered. I'd have taken a signed Goose Gossage cap.

Posted by: Bethesdangit1 | August 5, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Hasn't Mike Morse earned the starting rightfield spot? Why isn't Riggleman playing him more?

Posted by: bobilly2 | August 5, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

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