All sys­tems are go for Stras­burg

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather - BY NATHAN FENNO

VIERA, FLA. | Stephen Stras­burg’s de­liv­ery was flaw­less. Arms crossed in front of his locker, the 23-year-old right-han­der didn’t let a smile sneak onto his face as the words left his mouth.

“I was just max­ing out at 88,” Stras­burg said af­ter pitch­ing two in­nings in the Washington Na­tion­als’ 10-2 Grape­fruit League loss to the Hous­ton Astros on Sun­day. “So that’s about right.”

The joke hung in the air. Laugh­ter fol­lowed a few sec­onds later.

Stras­burg is known for his fast­ball that av­er­aged 95.8 mph in five Septem­ber starts last sea­son, not his one-lin­ers with re­porters.

But Stras­burg’s man­ner af­ter his 44-pitch out­ing at Space Coast Sta­dium was as easy as his arm ac­tion. Five hun­dred forty-eight days af­ter Tommy John lig­a­ment re­place­ment surgery re­paired his right el­bow, Stras­burg’s arm feels sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter than last spring train­ing.

Bet­ter means a stronger arm, one that didn’t tire be­tween in­nings. One that felt as if it was just get­ting warmed up when man­ager Davey John­son pulled Stras­burg af­ter 22/ in­nings of three­hit, two-run base­ball, one pitch away from his limit of 45.

“It was pretty much a breeze,” Stras­burg said. “It was very easy to throw out there.”

That didn’t mean Stras­burg avoided trou­ble.

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