NEW YORK — In the days since the Washington Nationals informed Stephen Strasburg that his season on the mound was over, he’s tried to figure out just what he can do in the remaining days and weeks of the season — other than root on his team from the bench.
He asked if he could still throw off the bullpen mound. He was told no.
He asked if he could still play catch in the outfield. He was told yes.
But the one thing he didn’t ask about, Nationals manager Davey Johnson brought up to him on Tuesday in New York: pinch hitting.
“To give him something to think about, I said ‘Keep taking batting practice, I might need your bat,’” Johnson said Wednesday. “‘If I can’t use your arm, I’ll use your bat.’”
Strasburg is without question the Nationals’ best hitting pitcher. In 47 at-bats, Strasburg has a .277 average with a .333 on-base percentage and a .426 slugging percentage. Of his 13 hits this season, four were doubles, one was a home run and he walked three times.
The question of Strasburg serving as a bat off the bench is one that Johnson has laughed off until this point, the implication being that the Nationals weren’t going to need Strasburg to pinch hit with expanded rosters and more than enough position players to handle the load.
But Johnson said Wednesday he was serious about his proposal.
“Yeah I’m serious,” he said. “He’s been pestering (pitching coach Steve McCatty) about what he can do… It’s pretty bad now, but it’s going to get worse because he’s going to be chomping.”