The Washington Times - March 9, 2012, 11:09PM

JUPITER, Fla. — The Nationals just wrapped up their 3-0 loss to the Miami Marlins here in Jupiter. Stephen Strasburg was pleased with his three-inning stint. The stadium radar gun appeared a little hot, clocking some of Strasburg’s pitches at 101 and 103 mph. Asked if he felt that was the case, pitching coach Steve McCatty quipped: “With him, I’m not sure.” Scouts in the stands had him more in the 94-98 mph range.

Strasburg felt he gave up really just one hard-hit ball, a triple to Jose Reyes, and had a fielding miscue to open the third inning that likely extended his time on the mound that frame. As a result, he threw the final 14 of his allotted 60 pitches in the bullpen. Next start out he’ll be able to go up to 70-75 pitches, Nationals manager Davey Johnson said.


You’ll hear what Strasburg, Johnson and McCatty had to say about the right-hander’s start but first a few notes:

– Roger Bernadina was hit on the right elbow — the funny bone, really — with a pitch in the third inning. Bernadina appeared to be in significant pain and hunched over several times on his way to first base. But the Nationals let him stay in the game, as the sting went away from getting struck where he did, and he made a nice throw in the sixth inning to nail Omar Infante from left field trying to score on a single by catcher John Buck.

– The Nationals were shutout by six Marlins pitchers, starting with starter Wade LeBlanc, who allowed just one hit in his four innings of work and had just four hits all night. The lineup included really just one or two regular players in Ian Desmond and perhaps Rick Ankiel but it was tough for anyone to face LeBlanc, a bit of a soft-tosser, Friday night.

Johnson explains: 

“That’s the kind of guy that gives you trouble early in spring. He changes speed, he’s got a good changeup, locates his fastball, good curveball, it’s early for that right now for hitters. When you can do that, you’re going to have a good spring, early in the spring, because guys time the fastball… He can still give you trouble during the season but really, this time of year.”

– Here’s some of the reaction to Strasburg’s outing:

Pitching coach Steve McCatty: 

“I thought he threw the ball well, I thought his velocity was good, tried to get him not to use a whole bunch of breaking balls but I thought he threw the ball very good. I just want him to keep the strength, use his fastball, use that first and minimize it because one thing with Stephen, all his stuff, I still want him to use more fastballs than offspeed, which he does, but I just want him to get to use that fastball to get the command. A little off now and then, pitched both sides of the plate, I thought he threw the ball well.”

On if it can be expected for a pitcher to have difficulty fielding after such a long layoff: “Yeah, you’re out there, it’s game situations and you’re just thinking about pitching. I don’t think he was quite thinking that but you always want to do that and then it went in his glove and popped out so it’s just one of those things.”

On the curveball he dropped in to Giancarlo Stanton after two straight heaters: “It was good. I didn’t think a whole lot of it because he has that capability. It was a great pitch, what are you going to do? Every time he threw one like that if I was going to go ‘Wow,’ I’d end up going ‘Wow’ a lot.

“I’m sure he’s probably disappointed because he wants to do so well every time out but take away that ground ball back to him and it changes the whole complexion of the inning. He probably would have been able to go with less pitches, he’d have been out there maybe the next inning but this is what spring training’s about.”

Nationals manager Davey Johnson:

“I thought he threw the ball great. All his pitches were working, because he had the long inning I just wasn’t going to run him back out. I’d have done that with anybody. This is his second start, he got in some good work, he felt good and he doesn’t like anyone centering on the ball. But this is a process, you’re just getting in shape to pitch. But I was pleased. I was pleased with the way he threw.”

“He has a tendency to beat himself up. He had nothing to be upset about… He thought he was hitting his spots and he felt good. Twenty or more pitches is a whole lot for him to throw in one inning, even though he’s a strikeout pitcher. It’s just too early to go back out after 20 pitches.”

Stephen Strasburg:

“Just got to go do some PFP tomorrow and adjust off of that. Besides a couple, Reyes striking the ball, it felt good. It’s coming along.

On the infield grounder he threw away: “They tell you, if you get a ball hit hard at you, if you bobble it or whatever, to take your time. I was a little sped up. I fielded it. I went to pick it up. I just turned, and I saw a lot of red, and I decided to throw it at (Bryan) Petersen. It was just something that I can learn from. I couldn’t tell you the last time where it’s gotten past me where I had to run backwards and try to turn around and try to throw it. I mean, it’s a tough play to begin with. Bottom line is, I got to just slow down and just throw it to first to first, and if he beats it out, he beats out.

“I turned and I was ready to throw it, because I thought I was in line. And then when I finally turned and I really didn’t pick up the target, I was, like, trying to hold back, and it was already out of my hand.

“It’s different. You do PFP all the time, and you try and simulate it to where it’s a game-like situation. But you’ve got the adrenaline going. It’s hard, because they’re obviously not going to hit shots back at you at practice, and then intentionally bobble it like that or drop your glove and try and turn around knowing that a guy is going down the line. It’s something where I know what I did wrong. I’m glad it happened in a game like this and not necessarily one where it mattered.”

On how his command felt: Command was a lot better. I threw some breaking balls for strikes, changeup for strike. Fastballs in and out. It felt good. They really didn’t hit much. It’s just going out there, getting used to the flow of the game and stuff, really not giving them extra outs, which is what happened in the third.

On if he lobbied to go back out for the fourth: “It would have been nice. But 14 pitches, they just wanted me to go in (the bullpen). They liked what they saw. Just go out there in the bullpen, just get it in. 

On how he felt on the whole: “As far as progressing and building up, I felt a lot more under control out there. I was a little jumpy the first start. This start I was able to really feel it coming out of my hand and locate it a lot better.

“It’s just repetition. That’s the bottom line. You can go out there and it’s spring. Like tonight. I pitched well, I thought. I didn’t give up many hard hit balls at all. I made a couple mistakes fielding the ball. That’s it. Everybody is out there knowing that it’s spring and getting back into the flow, getting used to the speed of the game again. It’s nothing to be too upset about. Bottom line is I got my work in. It felt good. Stuff was there. It’s all about moving on and getting ready for the next one.