VIERA, Fla. — The nerves that Stephen Strasburg felt in his first start of the spring were still there on Thursday night, just lessened. When he stood on the bullpen mound, warming for his second start of the spring, the right-hander could feel his adrenaline rise and his body begin to rush his pitches.
But unlike in his first start, Strasburg was able to make most of the adjustments he needed before the game began. And after three innings of work, in which he allowed a run on two hits and two walks to the New York Mets with six strikeouts, the Nationals’ ace was pleased by his progress.
“Being so early I still don’t feel like I have enough mound time for it to just click and not really think about it, so I’m still just trying to feel it out a little bit,” Strasburg said. “The good thing is that I felt good when I came out so that’s the bottom line.
“I was able to make the adjustment a little faster this time and hopefully build off it in the bullpen and try to do it again next outing.”
Strasburg used his offspeed pitches a bit more this outing, needing 52 pitches in total to get through the three frames (30 of which were strikes), but he couldn’t say exactly how many. Manager Davey Johnson was pleased with the right-hander’s changeup and his curveball, though, and Strasburg felt his fastball command was better, even though he thought he may not have gotten every strike call.
“His changeup was outstanding,” Johnson said. “Always is. He got the ball down. It was up a bit early, that’s when he got hurt. But he was good.”
Strasburg’s sinker, one of the things he’s trying to work on this spring, flattened out a little bit and Strasburg said he’d like to take a little velocity off it if it means the pitch will move and sink more.
“The tough thing is you really can’t worry about results in spring training, because you want to work on your fastball and a lot of these guys are going to be swinging in the first two pitches,” Strasburg said. “They’re going to be sitting fastball. Just got to keep on going out there and just rolling with it.
“There’s going to be a time when you’re going to start cranking it up a little more and treating it more like a game-like situation.”
That time, however, is still a few weeks away.