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Strasburg-mania about to begin

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff  March 9, 2010 11:59 AM

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VIERA, Fla. - Big day for the Washington Nationals organization with No. 1 pick Stephen Strasburg making his spring training debut against the Tigers.

Strasburg signed a 4-year, $15.1 million deal as the No. 1 pick in the country out of San Diego State University. Strasburg has been clocked at more than 100 mph, but it expected to settle in the high 90s. The Nationals expect Strasburg to begin his career in the minors but shouldn't spend too much time there.

National media, several scouts around baseball are on hand. The Tigers brought a representative lineup with Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Guillen, Magglio Ordonez and Austin Jackson here to face the youngster.

We'll have updates later.

UPDATE, 1:40 p.m.: You'd think with such a high profile kid making his debut the Nats would sell out Space Coast Stadium. Not even close. Whether it's a statement on the stadium being located in the middle of Grapefruit League Nowhere or a show-me approach by Nats fans, Stephen Strasburg, the Next Big Thing in baseball, didn't get a full house.

First Inning - Strasburg topped out at 98 mph and threw seven pitches in retiring the anxious Tigers 1-2-3. Leadoff hitter Austin Jackson had the count 2-0 before grounding out to third. Clete Thomas took a 98 and 97 mph fastballs for balls before grounding out to second base. Magglio Ordonez swung at the first pitch and grounded out to shortstop. Oh yeah, Rick Porcello is pitching for the Tigers.

Second Inning - Strasburg seemed to be having mound issues but he got out of a two-on, two out situation with a strike out. Strasburg threw 20 pitches and struggled with his control. His velocity also dipped to the mid-90s. He struck out Miguel Cabrera on a high fastball at 98 mph on a 2-2 count. He then retired Carlos Guillen on a first-pitch grounder to third base. Don Kelly, a lefthanded hitter, went the other way and singled to left field on a 97 mph 2-2 pitch.Catcher Alex Avila singled up the middle on a 95 mph heater. Strasburg then went 3-0 on Brent Dlugach before coming back to strike him out. In two innings, Strasburg threw 27 pitches, 15 for strikes.

He did not come out for the third, the Nats feeling he'd come close enough to his 30-pitch limit. For the record, he left in 0-0 game and was replaced by former Mariner righty Miguel Bautista.

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