Stephen Strasburg accepts dugout role

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Stephen Strasburg knows these playoffs are different for him. He knows that his face shows up during the telecasts of the Washington Nationals’ games and that his absence, one of baseball’s biggest storylines, is a part of the Nationals’ story, regardless of how the end is written.

He’s a playoff bystander since the Nationals shut him down Sept. 8, after they determined he’d hit his workload limit for the season. That day, Strasburg acknowledged he didn’t think it was something he was “ever going to accept, to be honest with you. It’s something that I’m not happy about at all.”

But as the days have passed, Strasburg has resigned himself to his role this season. His eyes are now turned toward the future.

“I don’t think [watching the playoffs] is painful in any sense,” he said Tuesday. “It’s hard being in the dugout, but at the same time it’s exciting and the atmosphere’s great.

“I just can’t wait for my opportunity.”

That was a sentiment the Nationals’ right-hander repeated on three different occasions over the course of a conversation lasting less than three minutes.

Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright, who missed all of St. Louis’ World Series run in 2011 as he rehabbed from Tommy John surgery, spoke Saturday of the challenge he faced in trying to feel like he was a part of that team.

“During the time, I felt like I was a huge impact to that team,” Wainwright said. “I’m not sure I did anything, but I tricked myself into believing I was pretty important last year. I felt like I was there for anybody who needed me, at whatever level that was. Nothing else to do, right?”

Strasburg said he has not spoken with Wainwright about how he handled things last year, but another Cardinals’ starter has made an impact on his mentality.

“When I got hurt, [Chris Carpenter] reached out to me and talked to me about recovering and everything,” Strasburg said of the right-hander who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2007 and will start Game 3 on Wednesday.

“So I think just watching how he goes about it, coming off of Tommy John and the way he’s been such big-game pitcher in the playoffs, that’s one guy I’ve watched in the past. Hopefully I’ll have an opportunity soon to do the same thing.”

Experience on tap

Much has been made of the Nationals’ lack of experience in the postseason, but when Edwin Jackson takes the hill for today’s Game 3 of the National League Divisional Series, the team will be running out its most playoff-tested veteran.

Jackson won a World Series in 2011 with the Cardinals but had a 1-1 mark with a 5.60 ERA four playoff starts, struggling in his two outings in the NL Championship Series (six runs in 6.1 total innings) and a World Series start (seven walks in 5.2 innings).

Jackson, however, is confident that his postseason experience with St. Louis and Tampa Bay will pay dividends for Washington.

“I think it definitely helps,” he said. “The thing about postseason baseball is the game can speed up real quick. You have to kind of control the pace and control the tempo, and having experience in that, it definitely helps when you get in those situations.”

Jackson is familiar with the Cardinals from his time in St. Louis and in two recent starts against the Cardinals that were on the opposite end of the spectrum. On Aug. 30, he twirled an eight-inning, 10-strikeout gem in an 8-1 triumph. On Sept. 28, he didn’t make it out of the second inning, as the Cardinals rocked him for eight earned runs in a 12-2 defeat. “I think E.J. will be ready tomorrow,” catcher Kurt Suzuki said. “He’s been in these types of situations before. So we’re looking forward to having him go out there and pitch like he does.”

Garcia off Cards roster

Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia, who left in the second inning of Game 2 after laboring through his outing, was diagnosed with a rotator cuff strain and taken off the St. Louis roster. Garcia would be ineligible to return should the Cardinals advance to the NLCS.

In his place, the Cardinals added right-handed reliever Shelby Miller to their bullpen, giving St. Louis three rookies in the pen and another pitcher who could give the team long relief. “With this roster against the Nationals, we have more of a need with potentially a pitcher that could go a long ways, especially after we just took Lance Lynn out by throwing the amount of pitches that he threw [Monday],” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “We would need multiple innings and we would need a guy who has worked up to that, and that would be Shelby at this time.”

Miller was 11-10 with a 4.74 ERA in 27 Triple-A starts and 1-0 in six games with the Cardinals.

NLCS tickets, NLDS times

The Nationals announced that tickets for a potential NLCS series at Nationals Park will go on sale to the general public at 9 a.m. Wednesday. A maximum of two tickets for Games 1, 2, 6 and 7 may be purchased online or by phone.

Game 1 of the NLCS would be played Sunday, Oct. 14, and Game 2 would be Monday, Oct. 15.

Times for the remainder of the NLDS were announced Tuesday as well. Game 4 is scheduled for 4:07 p.m. Thursday, although if the Detroit-Oakland series ends Tuesday, the game will be moved to 5:07 p.m. Game 5, if necessary, is set for 8:37 p.m. Friday.

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