- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stephen Strasburg was formally introduced as a Washington National Friday afternoon in an elaborate, over-the-top news conference on the field at Nationals Park that included multiple video tributes, cheers from several hundred fans and, yes, even fireworks.

Now all the 21-year-old pitcher has to do is live up to all the hype. Good luck, kid.

“It’s just a tremendous feeling,” Strasburg said in a manner far more understated than the setting around him. “I’m hoping to come in here, do my job and help this team win some ballgames.”

The former San Diego State right-hander, drafted No. 1 in the country by the Nationals on June 9, agreed to terms on a four-year, $15.1 million contract less than two minutes before Monday night’s signing deadline, the largest deal ever awarded to a draft pick.

Strasburg, who met with members of Washington’s front office in San Diego two weeks ago, finally got to meet his eventual Nationals teammates at the ballpark Friday. He’ll throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Friday’s 7:05 p.m. game against the Milwaukee Brewers and stick around town through the weekend before heading to Viera, Fla., to begin getting his arm in shape after a 2½-month layoff.

The Nationals have no plans for Strasburg to pitch in the big leagues this season, but he’ll be given an opportunity to make the Opening Day 2010 rotation.

“That’s definitely completely up to the organization,” Strasburg said. “I’m just going to come in here, keep doing what I’ve been doing at San Diego: help the team win a ballgame. It doesn’t matter what team I’m on. I’d like to think of myself as a winning personality. That’s all I do. And hopefully some day I’ll be able to do it up here.”

Presented with a red curly W cap and a No. 37 Nationals jersey by All-Star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, Strasburg didn’t appear totally fazed by all the attention. Considering the hoopla that surrounded his introduction today, he was asked what might happen when he throws his first major-league shutout.

“I don’t know,” Strasburg replied. “Maybe a flyover from Air Force One?”

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