The 23-year-old right-hander, the top pick in the 2009 draft who signed a record $15 million four-year contract, will be allowed to pitch 150 to 160 innings this season, Johnson told reporters yesterday at Nationals spring training camp at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Florida.
“When they tell me to go out there and pitch, I’m going to pitch and give it everything I have,” Strasburg told reporters. “When they tell me I’m done, I’m going to be done. That’s the bottom line.”
Strasburg will follow the same regimen as teammate Jordan Zimmerman, who went 161 1/3 innings last year after having the same procedure. General Manager Mike Rizzo said the team would abide by the plan to limit Strasburg’s regular-season appearances.
“There’s not going to be a whole lot of tinkering going on,” Rizzo said. “We’re going to run him out there until his innings are done. I think it’s unfair to get him ramped up in spring training and start the season on a regular rotation and then shut him down or skip him.”
Strasburg set a major league record with 41 strikeouts in his first four starts in the 2010 season and went 5-3 with a 2.91 earned run average and 92 strikeouts in 68 innings. He threw a mixture of fastballs that reached 100 mph (161 kph), changeups and breaking balls.
His career was interrupted by so-called Tommy John surgery on Sept. 4, 2010, to replace a ligament in his throwing arm, two weeks after he injured it.
He spent last season rehabbing with the Nationals’ minor- league teams before joining his teammates in September for five starts. He went 1-1 with a 1.50 earned run average, with 24 strikeouts in 24 innings.
After his first bullpen workout of spring training, Strasburg said his pitching felt more natural than it did during his rehab games last season.
“It just feels like it almost never happened,” he said. “That’s a good thing, but at the same time, I need to remember what I learned from that because it was a tough experience in my career.”
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