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Without Stephen Strasburg next year, Mike Rizzo moves ahead

Every decision the Nationals made since last June came with the notion of Stephen Strasburg topping their rotation, uninterrupted, for years to come. Every decision the Nationals make starting today and through the offseason will be tinged with the knowledge Strasburg will probably not throw a major league pitch until April 2012.

Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo remained resolute in the face of Strasburg's impending Tommy John surgery. First, he said the attempt to sign Adam Dunn and the injury to Strasburg are "two independent things." He also remained confident the Nationals will be able to build their rotation next year and then around Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann.

"With Stpehen and Zim, we've said all along that we need to come up with a real rotation," Rizzo said. "We're certainly going to attack and get our rotation in place via free agency, trades, or developing our own. That's always our primary goal. It's been our primary goal, and we're certainly not going to stop looking for the ultimate starting rotation. That's the core of the ball club. A year goes fast. A year from now, this guy next to me will be toeing the rubber and we'll have two-fifth of our rotation, of what we had planned, on the field at the same time. We're going to be ready to take off from there."

The Nationals absorbed the news with disappointment but also as a reality to build around. "Worry about what we can control," one Nationals front office official said. "Take the rest as it comes."

The Nationals were able to use Strasburg as a chip to lure free agents to Washington despite their poor record. Now they'll have to woo them without Strasburg for 2011, and it'll start with Dunn, their current first baseman. Rizzo, though, saw no reason one should affect the other.

"I don't think there's any correlation between that," Rizzo said. "We've got a plan, a gameplan, to improve the ball club and to map ourselves a way to become a championship organization in the near future. I think the injury to Stephen and the signing of Adam Dunn are two independent things."

By Adam Kilgore  |  August 27, 2010; 5:21 PM ET
 
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