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Stephen Strasburg throws simulated game [UPDATED]

After Stephen Strasburg finished his anticipated simulated game at Chase Field with no apparent issues, he said he "absolutely" remains on track to return from the disabled list Tuesday at Nationals Park against the Marlins.

Strasburg threw roughly 40 pitches -- fastball, curveballs and changeups -- over two simulated "innings." Strasburg experienced some wildness, but most important, his pitches were crisp, his velocity almost as blistering as the 106-degree Arizona heat that engulfed the park with the retractable roof open.

"I felt good," Strasburg said. "My mechanics were a little out of sync, but that's to be expected, not having a batter stand in there for close to two weeks."

Strasburg felt no effects from the inflammation in his right shoulder that forced the Nationals to scratched him from his scheduled start July 27 against the Braves. He said the soreness left his shoulder two days after the scratched start.

"It feels really, really good right now," Strasburg said. "I was a little anxious out there. I kind of flew open on a couple, but there was a lot of good pitches in there. It was coming out really good today, too.

"It's getting stronger every single day. I'm sticking with my routine, doing everything I can do to get back on the mound. I knew it was just a matter of time. I just needed a little blow, and I needed to get my strength back. I was going into a new area of the season I had never pitched at before. We just had to be smart about it."

Strasburg pitched to nine batters, Willie Harris and Justin Maxwell alternating in the batting cage. General Manager Mike Rizzo and head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz watched from behind the plate and pitching coach Steve McCatty behind the mound. It had all the attention of Game 7 of the Simulated World Series.

"Just trying to get that feeling back of what I want to do with the hitter," Strasburg said.

Maxwell swung and missed three times, and Harris swung and missed once. They took most of the pitches, but each hitter ripped one line drive. After his, a simulated single to right-center, Harris shot his fist into the air and yelled, "Yeah!" before walking out of the cage and giving Maxwell a high five.

"That's Willie," Strasburg said. "He was talking a little smack beforehand."

Strasburg approached the session with as much intensity could be mustered at 1:40 p.m., with temperatures so high some parts of the Phoenix region operated under a heat warning. After he threw a ball on a simulated, 3-2 count to Harris, Strasburg yelled an expletive.

Strasburg also hit Maxwell in the back with a curveball. Both Maxwell and Harris came away with the impression that Strasburg is back to major league-ready.

"I think he's ready," Maxwell said. "He's goot good stuff. I'm glad he's on our team."

Strasburg threw about 20 pitches in each "inning," resting between them. After warming up for the second inning, Strasburg experienced trouble with the mound, a recurring issue this series. Groundskeepers scurried to the mound and pounded down the divot he created with rakes and a tamper.

By Adam Kilgore  |  August 5, 2010; 8:00 PM ET
Categories:  Stephen Strasburg  | Tags: Nationals, Stephen Strasburg, simulated game  
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Next: Jordan Zimmermann dominates with Syracuse


No comments about the simulated batters, eh guys? Well, I'll wager Stras makes the Marlins on Tuesday look merely simulated. . . .

Posted by: paulkp | August 5, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

It seems strange to me that two innings would constitute a simulated "game," but what do I know? Is that normal, Adam?

Posted by: baltova1 | August 5, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

I think some words were yet again omitted from a couple of sentences. I've corrected them as follows:

After warming up for the second simulated inning, Strasburg experienced simulated trouble with the mound, a recurring issue this series. Simulated groundskeepers scurried to the mound and pounded down the simulated divot he created with simulated rakes and a simulated tamper.

Posted by: Ted_Striker | August 5, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

You forgot to say "this 'simulated' series," TS. :-)

I suppose that a simulated interview would go something like this:

SS pauses and pretends to listen to a simulated question from a simulated interviewer. He then takes a swig from his energy drink, wipes his mouth with his sleeve, and responds. "No," he says, "I don't really think about that at all. I'm just here to help the team and, the good Lord willing, put them in position to get a win."

A team employee (simulated, 'natch), steps up to the mic and says, "We have time for one more question."

SS listens to another simulated question, shifts slightly in his chair, and rolls his eyes. He then responds, "Well, they didn't prove they could hit my fastball, so I wasn't going to throw any change-ups to possibly make a mistake, leave it up, and speed up their bats a little bit. So, it's a pitch that, if they can prove they can hit my other ones, I'll throw that, but they didn't do that tonight."

The team employee steps in again, and says "That's it for today, folks. Thanks."

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 5, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Okay, that last answer wasn't really simulated. More like recycled. Eh, what do you want? It's hot in here and I haven't had dinner yet. :-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 5, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

"After he threw a ball on a simulated, 3-2 count to Harris, Strasburg yelled an expletive."

Probably overly concerned, but could this be from pain during the throw?

Posted by: 202character | August 5, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

No doubt the expletive was uttered in reaction to the simulated strike zone, whereupon the simulated umpire took offense, Strasburg pointed his simulated glove in his direction, lip-synch'ed the words "I'm not talking to you!", and was promptly ejected by the simulated Bill Hohn.

Posted by: Ted_Striker | August 5, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

If Harris got a hit off of him, he's not ready.

Posted by: JohninMpls | August 5, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

This is really petty but I'm kinda tired of seeing redskin preseason hype take the lead (and lede) over Nat's copy. OK, the petty thing:
why does the drop down menu for have Redskins and then Capitals/NHL and Nationals/MLB. Shouldn't there be an /NFL after the Redskins label?

There, I'm done. You may return to wondering what happened to the big fat guy who couldn't practice last week but might next week and yada yada yada...

Posted by: AHappyWarrior | August 5, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Think there will be any simulated retaliation for the plunking of Maxwell?

Posted by: nunof1 | August 5, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

JohninMpls - you are absolutely correct.

Posted by: nataliahnats | August 5, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm with baltova1 on this one:
40 pitches = 'simulated game' - Not in my book. I'd have thought that a 'simulated game' would have been at least 70-80 pitches, just to see if he could still handle the pitch count.
If he holds up after a normal load like that, he's good to go. If not, keep him on the DL for another 7-10 days & send him to HAR or SYR for a 4-5IP stint.
A two-inning, 40 pitch simulation doesn't prove much of anything, other than to see if he can throw his primary pitches for strikes. It probably failed to test the entire arsenal with any level of depth.

Posted by: BinM | August 5, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Good points from Kilgore - Strasburg faced the two weakest hitters on the Nationals roster (Harris & Maxwell) in his 'simulation'. The fact that they both stroked at least one OF line-drive each raises a question as to whether or not he's really ready.

Posted by: BinM | August 5, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Two innings and forty pitches? Was he simulating a Jason Marquis game?

Posted by: RiverOtis | August 5, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Simulated game = simulated game CONDITIONS. Instead of having him pitch all his pitches straight through as he would in a bullpen session, they want to gauge the effect on him of having to pitch, then sit, then pitch again as he would in a game. No real need to repeat that cycle more than once or twice.

Posted by: nunof1 | August 5, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Post of the day, right there. I'm just saying...


No doubt the expletive was uttered in reaction to the simulated strike zone, whereupon the simulated umpire took offense, Strasburg pointed his simulated glove in his direction, lip-synch'ed the words "I'm not talking to you!", and was promptly ejected by the simulated Bill Hohn.

Posted by: Ted_Striker | August 5, 2010 7:59 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 6, 2010 6:54 AM | Report abuse

I wonder when we'll start treating Strasburg like the first-class ace he is. This coddling and pampering like he's some kind of hothouse flower can't be good for the kid.

They never treated Walter Johnson this way, or Bob Feller, or Warren Spahn, or Whitey Ford, or Sandy Koufax, or Nolan Ryan, or Roger Clemens this way. He's never going to grow up if he keeps being spoiled.

I want to see what this Yunesky Maya guy is like. The tales they tell of him are intriguing. If he's the pitcher he's reputed to be, a rotation with Strasburg, Zimmermann, Maya, Livo, and choose one from among Marquis, Wang, or the guys we've already seen this year might take us a long way next year.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | August 6, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Maybe Strasburg yelled a simulated expletive, like "Goldang!" or "Sheeyit!" or "Fork!"

Posted by: FergusonFoont | August 6, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

I'm no doctor (don't even play one on TV) but shoulder inflammation bad enough to land SS on the DL MAY be cause for alarm down the road -- I.e., tendinitis, bursitis, etc. Simulate that! Hope it's fleeting but given the Nats crappy luck with pitcher injuries I'm not that sanguine. In the meantime, line up nieves, too for some simulated plunking while you're at it!

Posted by: finfive | August 6, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Willie Harris = .900 OPS for July. You can look it up.

Posted by: markfromark | August 6, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

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