- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 24, 2010

VIERA, Fla. | Nationals top prospect Stephen Strasburg pitched for the first time since leaving big league camp, striking out nine batters in 4 1/3 shutout innings of an intrasquad minor league game Wednesday.

The 21-year-old right-hander walked three and allowed one hit. He threw 79 pitches, 46 for strikes, and was taken out after walking two batters in the fifth inning.

“You get out of rhythm, you get a little sped up, and it’s going to cause you to fall off to one side or the other, but I’m just going out there and getting my work in,” Strasburg said when asked about his control issues in the fifth.

“I knew exactly what happened,” he added. “It’s happened time and time before, so I know what to do to fix it, and I just got to remember to keep the same tempo and rhythm that I had the first four innings out there.”

The No. 1 overall pick in June’s amateur draft, who signed a record $15.1 million contract in August, also had one plate appearance Wednesday, sacrificing a runner to second base.

Strasburg was optioned to Double-A Harrisburg on Saturday despite having been Washington’s best starter in exhibition games.

As for moving from the major league side to the minor league side of camp, he said: “The big difference is when you know you’re going to be facing your own team, it’s a little more regulated. It’s hard to really get excited, get your adrenaline going for the game.”

Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan, who is nursing a strained hamstring, also played Wednesday, going 0 for 4. He did not face Strasburg.

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