LAKELAND, Fla. — The plans for the trip were already in place long before manager Davey Johnson made the formal announcement Wednesday that Stephen Strasburg would start for the Washington Nationals on Opening Day.
But once he did, once the right-hander knew for certain that he had the honor of opening his team's season, the itinerary seemed that much more fortuitous.
Strasburg will make his second Opening Day start for the Nationals on April 1, and his first in front of a home crowd at Nationals Park. While pitching Opening Day at Wrigley Field in 2012 was something special, Strasburg is eager for this one, too.
"I'm pretty excited about it," he said last week. "I think it's obviously going to be pretty cool starting the home opener. Last year in Wrigley was great, but this is going to be in front of, hopefully, a sellout crowd at home."
Part of that crowd will be a few members of Strasburg's family, who have turned his start in Washington into one stop on a cross-country road trip.
The trip will start outside of Augusta, Ga., Strasburg said, where his dad, joined by his uncle, will visit with one of the right-hander's cousins. They'll make their way south from there to Viera, Fla., to catch the end of the Nationals' spring training schedule, then head north to Washington.
But it won't end there.
"My grandfather ... was stationed right outside of Cincinnati for a bit, so [my father and my uncle] grew up Reds fans," Strasburg said. "So they're probably going to go from here up to D.C. and then D.C. to Cincinnati, and then back home."
Home, of course, being San Diego.
"It's a long trip for them, cross-country," Strasburg said.
The timing of it, though, means Strasburg will likely make it worth their while as he's on schedule to get his first two starts of the season during that time.
Gonzalez relished WBC experience
Gio Gonzalez was back in the Nationals' clubhouse Sunday morning, fresh off his stint in the World Baseball Classic and a visit to his home in Miami. While he was disappointed Team USA didn't advance to the championship round, Gonzalez called the experience one of his "most memorable."
"It was so much fun," Gonzalez said. "It reminded me of the playoffs. It was just exciting to be there. It was one of those experiences that you know the feeling is there."
Gonzalez said he got a lot out of working with future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux and kidded Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty that Maddux was coming for his job.
"It was one of those experiences that will be great to tell when I'm a little older," Gonzalez said.
Around the horn
The Nationals beat the Detroit Tigers 12-10 on Sunday in a game that saw 27 hits between the two teams. ... Ross Detwiler was solid in four innings of work in his first start back after the WBC. ... Catcher Jhonatan Solano got a chance to play left field in the eighth and ninth innings when Micah Owings was lifted with a sore quad.
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