Nationals' new star Stephen Strasburg and his low-key life as newlywed with wife Rachel
Washington has Stephen Strasburg mania, poised to reach fever pitch Tuesday night when the rookie pitcher makes his debut at Nationals Park. But fans hoping to glimpse the $15 million man out on the town -- flashing a black Amex card, hanging with his posse at the latest hip bar -- are out of luck. Not gonna happen.
Off the field, Strasburg is a shy, low-key homebody devoted to his bride of five months, Rachel. The newlyweds, both just 21, have deliberately kept out of the public eye by staying at hotels under assumed names and steering clear of reporters and photographers. But she has been at his side every step of his rise from college phenom to major league sensation.
"She's my best friend," Strasburg told our colleague Dave Sheinin. "I can't imagine her not being here."
The former Rachel Lackey, a high school water polo player, was Strasburg's college sweetheart at San Diego State and accompanied him when he was introduced at Nationals Park last August. The couple had dated 18 months before he proposed last fall. The engagement seemed sudden to some insiders -- but not Rachel's mom. "I wasn't surprised at all," Jenny Lackey told us. "They're great together."
The couple wed Jan. 9 at a small outdoor ceremony at South Coast Winery near San Diego, the warmest spot in the United States that day. She wore a strapless white lace gown; her bridesmaids wore fuchsia. Then the newlyweds headed to Hawaii for their honeymoon. The groom was allowed to skip all the Nationals offseason publicity programs but spent every other day working on his arm.
Since then, Strasburg has been pitching in the minor leagues while Rachel adjusts to life as a player's wife: living in temporary housing, attending almost every game, following the team bus on road trips with the other wives. "She's handling it great," said her mom. "She's doing really well."
"Normal couple, down to earth," Syracuse Chiefs third baseman Chase Lambin told the city's Post-Standard newspaper.
That normalcy will be tested next week when every camera in sports focuses on Stephen Strasburg. The Lackeys, who live outside San Diego, are making their first trip to D.C. for their son-in-law's debut, and will see where the couple has decided to live -- a carefully guarded secret for security reasons.
After the game, they'll probably skip the fancy restaurants and head home for playtime with Bentley, the Strasburgs' new Yorkie. "They love their little dog," said Jenny Lackey. "He's hilarious."
The Reliable Source
June 4, 2010; 1:05 AM ET
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