SAN DIEGO — Two days after the one-year anniversary of his electric major league debut, Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg was back on a mound inside a major league ballpark.
With a break between the end of extended spring training and when the Gulf Coast League starts up, Strasburg was out on the west coast for a few days and popped into Petco Park to visit his teammates and throw a bullpen session with pitching coach Steve McCatty and in front of Nationals trainer Lee Kuntz. Strasburg was shown in MLBNetwork’s ballpark cam early Friday afternoon throwing but he’d left the park long before the clubhouse was opened to reporters.
McCatty said Strasburg threw fastballs from the mound and changeups from flat ground while playing catch.
“This is a long course,” McCatty, who hadn’t seen Strasburg throw since Spring Training, said. “He’s throwing 50 percent, a little more than that. He’s got a way to go but it was effortless. It was very good. Mechanics are really good. It was nice to watch.”
Strasburg was in good spirits, McCatty said, excited to see some of his teammates again after more than two months rehabbing in Florida mostly alone and going fishing. Most importantly, Strasburg’s mechanics remain in tune, a challenge when you’re only throwing with 50 percent of the normal force.
“The idea is you want to repeat the mechanics you had before,” McCatty said. “You stay within yourself. When I say the hard part is the mental part, that’s the toughest thing because you feel good but you’re throwing slower. It’s always hard to repeat the exact mechanics you’re going to have when you’re letting it go at maximum velocity. That’s what you work on — the timing of it, the stride, the direction, the movement of the hands, all that stuff.
“Mechanics change all the time, but Stephen is smart enough. He’s looked at enough videos of himself, I’m sure. When he says he’s going to be the best at doing this, he knows exactly what he did before. When he came up he was always in-tune to what he was doing, as far as his body… He’s very conscious of what he wants to do.
“This kid’s pretty special. He’s not just a guy that throws hard. He knows exactly what he wants to do. He could feel it last year when he was a little off. Guys tend to, when they throw really hard, they’re maximum effort. Stephen is not a maximum effort guy. He just repeats his mechanics and he was very in-tune to what he did last year and very good with it now.”