Nats’ Jose Lobaton knew Stephen Strasburg from PlayStation

VIERA, FL - FEBRUARY 18: Washington Nationals catcher Jose Lobaton  greets Stephen Strasburg (37)  after their bullpen session during spring training workouts on February 18, 2014 in Viera, Fl.  (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

(Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

New Nationals backup catcher Jose Lobaton caught Stephen Strasburg for the first time in a bullpen session on Tuesday, but Lobaton had unwittingly prepared to form a battery with the Nationals’ ace all of last season.

“I knew him from PlayStation,” Lobaton said Wednesday morning. “He was with Tampa. I traded for him.”

Lobaton knew Strasburg threw a curveball, changeup and fastball, and roughly how they moved, because he had played a video game using him so extensively. “PlayStation, it’s a real game,” Lobaton said. “You can see everything.”

Of course, catching Strasburg in real life had some differences. Lobaton was impressed with Strasburg’s stuff, but more so with his command and how easily he delivered. He compared catching Strasburg to catching Rays lefty David Price, even if Price is left-handed and throws more two-seamers, while Strasburg uses a four-seamer more often.

“I haven’t seen a guy a like him,” Lobaton said. “I can say Pricey, because he throws a lot of strikes.”

After their session together, they met between the plate and the mound and chatted briefly about how Strasburg likes to pitch. Strasburg let Lobaton know that he likes to use his two-seamer more often with men on base, when he wants a groundball.

“One thing I know about him, he’s got a good fastball,” Lobaton added. “And then he threw that changeup yesterday. I asked Sandy [Leon]. He said, ‘That’s the best pitch that he’s got.’ I was like: ‘Wow! That fastball and that changeup? And then the curveball?’ ”

About Lobaton’s PlayStation habit, I wondered if he had traded Jose Molina off the Rays’ roster in order to give himself more playing time.

“No, but I played every day,” Lobaton said. “Molina was my backup. Next year, Wilson is going to be my backup.”

Sitting a couple lockers down, Wilson Ramos smiled and glanced over with a look that said, “Really?” Both catchers laughed.

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