For those of you with Stephen Strasburg shrines at home, you might want to know that the kid’s locker is just off to the right as you walk into the home clubhouse.
It’s likely a temporary location for Strasburg’s stay with the major league club during this six-game homestand, but it was an interesting location - between the “lost and found” locker and Livan Hernandez’s locker.
Equipment manager Mike Wallace said Strasburg got that spot because it was the last piece of real estate in the clubhouse.
“It doesn’t hurt, though, to put him next to Livo,” I said to Wallace.
“No, it doesn’t,” he replied.
Seven days sitting next to Hernandez will be a good education for Strasburg, the Nationals’ $15.1 million pitching phenom. He won’t be throwing a pitch or sitting in the dugout while he is here, but he has a chance to soak up some knowledge, and Livo is an Ivy League institution of pitching knowledge.
I asked Livo - who also made it clear he very much wants to be with the Nationals next season - whether he is familiar with Strasburg. “Sure, everybody knows about this kid,” he said. “He’s really good.”
It would behoove Strasburg to make the most of his time here and soak up some Livo knowledge.
Strasburg had been in Viera, Fla., with minor league pitching coordinator Spin Williams and the team’s Gulf Coast League squad after signing his historic deal last month. But the Gulf Coast League season ended with the Nationals’ team winning the title. Rather than Strasburg going home to San Diego, the organization wanted him to come to the District.
“He’s really here because he is in kind of an in-between time,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “Rather than go home and restart, we brought him here to continue his conditioning and work on the field a little bit with [pitching coach] Steve McCatty and let everybody kind of get a look at him. The only thing he will get out of this is continued conditioning to prepare himself for the instructional league.”
Strasburg didn’t get rave reviews from the media members who went to Viera to watch his initial workout at the team’s spring training complex. The reports were that he was not happy with the attention. He told me earlier this week that he was just trying to joke around with the reporters.
He didn’t exactly seem jovial Friday at Nationals Park. He stood in front of his locker, facing away from the center of the clubhouse, with his No. 37 jersey hanging up, and checked his text messages. As his teammates headed to the field for pitchers’ fielding practice, John Lannan talked to him briefly. A few minutes later, Strasburg walked slowly down the steps of the clubhouse by himself as he made his way to the field.
It wasn’t the walk of someone who was looking forward to pitchers’ fielding practice at Nationals Park. But Lannan, who has evolved into the leader of this young pitching staff, said he likes what he has seen.
“Stras, he is a good kid,” Lannan said. “He is getting his feet wet. He seems like he has a good head on his shoulders and seems like a down-to-earth kid.”
Strasburg should take the time to fill that good head with good knowledge while he is in the District. Livo and Lannan would be good places to start.
c Listen to Thom Loverro and co-host Kevin Sheehan on “The Sports Fix” from noon to 2 p.m. weekdays on ESPN 980 or espn980.com.