Saturday, February 27, 2010

Strasburg vs. hitters ... sort of

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Stephen Strasburg threw his first session of live BP today.
[Updated with some quotes from Strasburg]

VIERA, Fla. -- Cross another milestone off the Stephen Strasburg checklist. The kid has now thrown to live batters.

Actually, we have to assume they were alive, because nothing Willy Taveras, Derek Norris, Roger Bernadina or Eric Bruntlett did while standing at the plate against Strasburg today resembled physical activity. They basically just stood there and watched pitches go by.

Don't worry, this was by design. On a cold, windy, rainy Saturday morning, the last thing anybody wanted to do was get jammed by a 98 mph Strasburg fastball. The purpose of today's "live BP" session was merely to allow Strasburg to get a feel for pitching off a mound with somebody holding a bat at the plate, and for the hitters to get a sense of his pitches without actually swinging.

As best as I could tell with my untrained eye, Strasburg looked perfectly fine out there. The pop that comes out the catcher's mitt (in this case, Devin Ivany) when the rookie flamethrower is on the mound is distinct. It just doesn't sound like any of the other guys. It appeared Strasburg threw all his pitches; in particular, he tossed a couple of impressive breaking balls that handcuffed the batters.

All in all, a successful session with no setbacks.

"It was just like another bullpen," he said. "I was just going out there, working on pitches, working on locations and trying to hit spots."

At this point, guys are starting to itch to face real hitters in real game situations.

"I'm sure as we get closer to the games, everybody's going to be champing at the bit," Strasburg said. "And then by the end of spring training, everybody's going to be ready to play some real games. As pitchers, we were pretty much all ready to face hitters when we came into camp. We've been ready for a while, but there's always going to be something new to work on."

Plenty of other guys threw today, too. (What's that you say? There are other pitchers in this camp?) Among those who were out there were Jason Marquis, Miguel Batista, Matt Chico, Craig Stammen, Sean Burnett, J.D. Martin, Luis Atilano and more. A few players took some hacks against those guys, but not as much as yesterday. Given the nasty weather conditions, it just wasn't worth it.


Anonymous said...

It's going to be interesting to see how much armor hitters will be wearing when facing Strasburgs heat this summer. JT in SC

Anonymous said...

That's a striking photo, Mark. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Handcuffed batters that weren't swinging?

Mark Zuckerman said...

Yeah, like when a batter starts backing off the plate because he thinks a pitch is coming in high and tight, then before he realizes it, it breaks right back into the strike zone. They may not have been swinging, but had they wanted to, they wouldn't have been able to.

test said...

That's not called being "handcuffed", that's "bending knees", "breaking ankles", etc.

Andrew said...

Whatever it is called I know it as AWESOME! Thanks again Mark!

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