- The Washington Times - Friday, February 20, 2015

VIERA, Fla. — Perhaps the two biggest names in the Nationals’ high-powered starting rotation hadn’t met before Friday.

Though Stephen Strasburg doesn’t know much about Max Scherzer, he knows the addition of the 30-year-old right-hander will add even more depth to an already stacked group. Strasburg knows there are things he can learn from Scherzer, and he’s excited to get going.

“We’re already pretty good to begin with,” Strasburg said Friday, “but to add somebody like him just kind of puts us over the top. I think it’s going to help everybody out, and hopefully we can do some big things this year.”

Strasburg spent the winter in San Diego and said he stuck to his usual offseason program. He will join a rotation that some have said could be historically great, the backbone of a team that is the odds-on favorite in Las Vegas sportsbooks to win the World Series. Yet in Strasburg’s mind, this season is no different than any other. So why would he prepare any differently?

“It’s just another year,” he said. “I was happy to get the innings under my belt last year. Hoping to just build off of that. From day one, I always wanted to come in here and be the same guy, good or bad, and be consistent out there on the field. So that’s just going to be the goal again this year.”

In a rotation featuring Scherzer, Strasburg, Doug Fister, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann, the looming question is who, if anyone, will be considered the ace. Strasburg has started on Opening Day in each of the past three years. Scherzer won a Cy Young award with the Detroit Tigers in 2013. Fister led the team with 16 wins last season. Zimmermann pitched the organization’s first no-hitter in the season-finale.

All of them are deserving on the “ace” title, but Scherzer said it doesn’t matter who the ace is as long as the team is winning. That said, Strasburg said the role is something they all covet.

“Everybody wants to be that number one guy. Everybody wants to be a leader,” he said. “I think that’s just the type of guys we have in the clubhouse here. I’m not going to change how I go about my business, and I know everybody else is going to do the same, so I’ve just go to do all I can to go out there and win as many games as I can.”

Strasburg was then asked whether being a part of this rotation would require each starter to put his ego aside.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Obviously, in your line of work too, there are guys that write, and they have their egos, and they know what they’re going to write before they even talk to the player. Same goes for this situation. I think you’ve got to ask the player and just see what motivates them and make your opinion after that.

“I was never a good player growing up. I believed in myself. I wasn’t the number one prospect coming up at 12 years old like how they rank them these days. I always had to work really hard to get where I’m at, so I’m just going to keep doing that.”

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