Continued from page 1

“His stuff hasn’t maxed out yet,” Tracy said. “Add the savvy on top of it as he gets older, and the sky is the limit for him.

“He’s built for the long haul. He takes care of himself. He does things right. Now it is just a matter of staying healthy and going out and doing what he does.”

Strasburg is as quiet as his pitches are loud. He’d rather blend in, but seems to understand his status as a former No. 1 pick and his history doesn’t allow for that. Learning to deal with that spotlight is another part of the maturation process.

He’s definitely excited for his pitching to become the story. He seems to be as eager as anyone to see where that story goes.

“This is my first opportunity to pitch a full year in the big leagues, and I’m still learning how to do it,” Strasburg said.

LaRoche seems excited, too, about having a pretty good view of the development.

“The nice thing about this year is he can go in knowing the surgery is behind him, know there are no restrictions,” LaRoche said. “It has to be a breath of fresh air for him, knowing he can just go play and not have to worry about any pitch limits, really focus on winning and not when his last start is going to be. It has to be a relief to have that behind him.”

For him, and many others. That 2008 season was a misery while it was going on, but it produced a gift at the end. Now the gift is fully unwrapped and ready to be enjoyed.