Rizzo won't confirm Strasburg's debut
General Manager Mike Rizzo reiterated on Tuesday that the Washington Nationals have not set a date for Stephen Strasburg's first major league start, bristling at the fact that several media outlets, including The Washington Post, have floated June 4 as a potential or likely date for the debut.
"That hasn't been decided yet, although you did announce that he's pitching on the fourth," Rizzo said. "No, that hasn't been determined yet. There are factors that will be involved when we announce it. And even when we announce it, it's not going to be settled on until after a couple days after he starts his last start in Triple A."
Strasburg will make his next start for Class AAA Syracuse on Saturday against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Monday night, Strasburg threw only 52 pitches in five innings, which was the "very specific plan" Rizzo laid out, he said. Rizzo and pitching coordinator Spin Williams predetermined Strasburg would throw between 55 or 60 pitches, but when Strasburg finished the fifth with 52 pitches the Nationals didn't want Strasburg to start the next inning and then pull him.
"His stuff was terrific," Rizzo said. "Getting hit around, I guess the bar is extremely high for him. I saw some of the balls that were hit around on him. He pitched great. Stuff was good."
Nats know, but won't tell
The Nationals have settled on who they are going to select with the first overall choice in the first-year player draft on June 7, Rizzo said. He would not reveal the player but told reporters, "We feel that we've narrowed it down to one specific person."
The overwhelming favorite among the baseball community to become the first overall choice is Bryce Harper. After skipping his junior year of high school to enroll at the College of Southern Nevada, Harper, 17, has compiled mind-boggling numbers, including hitting four home runs in a 6-for-6 performance in a playoff game this weekend.
Rizzo said crosscheckers will convene at Nationals Park on Monday to plan out their top 100 players for the draft and to list between 1,500 and 1,600 players for the entire draft.
All-Star outlook grim
Major League Baseball released its first National League all-star voting update, and the results were not pretty for the Nationals. Iván Rodríguez ranked third at catcher, behind Yadier Molina of the Cardinals and Carlos Ruiz of the Phillies. No other National appeared in the top five at any position.
Ryan Zimmerman won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger last season at third base, and this year he ranks seventh in the National League -- first among third basemen -- with a .951 OPS. And still he could not crack the top five at third, ranking behind Placido Polanco, David Wright, Casey McGahee, Pablo Sandoval and Chipper Jones.
Catcher up, Bruney out
The Nationals made official two expected moves, selecting the contract of catcher Carlos Maldonado from Class AAA Syracuse and unconditionally releasing reliever Brian Bruney.
Bruney struggled in his brief tenure with the Nationals and refused to accept his minor league assignment when the Nationals designated him. Bruney is a free agent, but the Nationals owe him his $1.5 million salary until another team signs him.
-- Adam Kilgore