Stephen Strasburg just conducted his first press conference in Washington — though “press conference” is hardly an apt term to describe the proceedings at Nationals Park, with not one, but two videos on the center-field scoreboard, fireworks and an appearance from Ryan Zimmerman to present Strasburg with his No. 37 Nationals jersey (no word on when third-base coach Pat Listach will lose his number for real).
General manager Mike Rizzo has taken great pains to avoid painting Strasburg like the savior of the franchise, but it was also clear how much the Nationals wanted Strasburg’s introduction to Washington to feel like a grand event, at one point calling it a glimpse into “baseball history.”
As for Strasburg himself, he handled the situation calmly, joking that after the pomp of his opening press conference, the only thing that could top it after his first shutout would be “a flyover from Air Force One.” He shared the stage with Rizzo, team president Stan Kasten and agent Scott Boras. Strasburg’s father and girlfriend were in the front row of seats down the third-base line, as were members of the Lerner family and several Boras employees.
Rizzo and Kasten held a short Q-and-A with fans after the press conference, though that was cut short by an approaching storm system. Nothing particularly meaty from that — lots of talk about the process of hiring Rizzo full-time. But just as the press conference concluded, one fan did shout, “Hey Boras! Next year, we want Bryce Harper!”
And there was the fan who asked Rizzo, “How much longer do we have to endure Austin Kearns?” — and got applauded for it.
Gotta run downstairs for another press conference with Boras and Strasburg. We’ll have more from that one later.