- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 20, 2009

Stephen Strasburg’s first appearance at Nationals Park has the potential to become a full-blown frenzy.

The recently signed No. 1 draft pick will make his public debut with the Washington Nationals on Friday afternoon during a news conference along the third-base line that will be open to media and fans alike.

The Nationals announced plans for the event Wednesday, selling $1 tickets for Friday night’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers that included admission to the 2 p.m. news conference. All 6,000 tickets made available online sold out by early Wednesday evening.

The news conference will be followed by a Q-and-A session between fans and members of the Nationals’ front office, including general manager Mike Rizzo.

Strasburg, the former San Diego State right-hander touted as the top pitching prospect in a generation, agreed on Monday night to a record-setting $15.1 million contract less than two minutes before the signing deadline.

He’s due to spend the weekend in town meeting with members of the Nationals organization and touring the city before heading to Viera, Fla., to begin getting his arm in shape for the Florida instructional league and then the Arizona Fall League.

Team officials have said it’s very unlikely Strasburg will pitch in the majors this season.

“He’s excited to meet everybody in D.C.,” Rizzo said. “And he’s just really looking forward to putting the hoopla behind him and starting his baseball career.”

Zimmermann has surgery

Jordan Zimmermann had Tommy John surgery performed on his right elbow Wednesday in Los Angeles, a procedure that by all accounts went smoothly but will sideline the rookie pitcher 12 to 18 months.

Orthopedist Lewis Yocum replaced Zimmermann’s torn ulnar collateral ligament with a tendon from his left leg. Washington team doctor Wiemi Douoguih was in attendance for the procedure.

Zimmermann, who entered the season as the Nationals’ top-rated prospect, will be in a sling for a week and will remain with the club while rehabbing.

Meanwhile, Jesus Flores played catch Wednesday for the first time since breaking his right shoulder in early May. The injured catcher threw from 45 feet and said his arm felt strong afterward.

“It was good,” he said. “Just a little weird, you know. I haven’t thrown a baseball in at least three months.”

Flores plans to play winter ball in Venezuela in preparation for next season.

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