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Stephen Strasburg gave up two earned runs in four innings this afternoon.
Though there are still two more Grapefruit League games to be played, and then an exhibition in Washington against the Red Sox on Tuesday, Strasburg's spring training effectively came to an end this afternoon when he allowed three runs (two earned) and five hits to the Cardinals over four up-and-down innings.
This was hardly a dress rehearsal for the Nationals ace. He already treated his previous spring outing as though he would a regular-season game, shutting out the Mets over five stellar innings. Manager Davey Johnson is having all his starters ease off the gas pedal in their final exhibition starts, so Strasburg was pulled after only 67 pitches.
He finished the spring with an unimpressive 1-4 record and 4.18 ERA, but no one in camp was paying much attention to the numbers, least of all Strasburg.
"Bottom line is, I got my work in," he said, summarizing his spring. "Got the innings in. Felt good some days. Felt a little off on others. All in all, I'm happy with it."
Next up for Strasburg: A date with the Cubs in Thursday's much-ballyhooed season opener. The 23-year-old right-hander has never been to Wrigley Field before. He's never even visited Chicago, so he's particularly looking forward to this.
"I'm just excited for the experience," he said. "It's something that doesn't happen to everybody, starting Opening Day in Wrigley. It's going to be fun no matter what."
It could be a long five-day wait between now and then, but Strasburg actually views that as a good thing: It's evidence his surgically repaired elbow is totally healed and his arm is ready for the rigors of a full season.
"I think now that my arm's in shape, the recovery time [between starts] is a lot less," he said. "That's where I want to be, and that's what I'm happy about. It does feel like a long time before you pitch, and it's not like your arm's still sore or whatever, and five days come up and you're just feeling good again. I think I'm at the point where, shoot, by the day of the [between starts throwing session] I'm ready to go."
After nearly six weeks toiling under the warm Florida sun, can you blame Strasburg if he's a bit eager to head north?
"I think in my mind, he's ready," Johnson said. "I think in his mind, too. He's ready to start this thing off."