Now the rest of the country will get a chance to take notice.
Strasburg is slated to pitch every fifth day, not every fifth game, for the next few weeks, Riggleman said. A possible schedule for him, barring rainouts, etc., looks like this: at home June 18 against the White Sox, at home June 23 against the Royals, at Atlanta on June 28, at home July 3 against the Mets and at home July 8 against his hometown Padres.
There is no doubt Strasburg is looking forward to traveling to Major League ballparks with the Nationals but the young pitcher already has enjoyed his share of travels. He was with the team at tournaments in Europe and also went to China with the team as part of collegiate and Olympic teams in 2008.
In Beijing, he threw seven scoreless innings in a 7-0 victory against the Netherlands. His 11 strikeouts in that game were the third highest for a U.S. pitcher in the Olympic Games. He did not fare as well in the semifinals, pitching four innings and giving up two runs in an eventual 10–2 loss to Cuba. Still, he did come home with an Olympic bronze medal.
Major league players and fans learned first hand how good Strasburg was on Tuesday. Javier Lopez, a University of Virginia product who pitches for the Pirates, was impressed.
“He is pretty difficult to hit,” said Lopez, who grew up in northern Virginia. “He lived up to the billing, stuff-wise. He established himself early in the game. He was true to his word” as a big-time prospect.
Spin Williams, the former pitching coach for the Pirates, is now the minor league pitching coordinator for the Nationals and began working with Strasburg last August in Florida. He has been impressed with how Strasburg has handled the hype.
“It is good for baseball,’’ Williams said. “He has handled it well. He is a wonderful guy.”
With wonderful stuff on the mound, including a fastball near 100 mph, a mean slider and change up at “only” around 89.
“He has really, really good stuff,” said Williams, a member of the Iowa baseball coaches Hall of Fame. “He has a devastating change up. The biggest thing that impresses me is the command of his pitches.”
Now the rest of the world is discovering what they have known for some time.
“There is a buzz when he pitches,’’ Campbell said. “He has everyone’s attention. It is special event when he is on the mound.”