Wednesday, March 2, 2011; 4:41 PM
Early this morning, Stephen Strasburg stood in right field at Space Coast Stadium, playing catch with Lee Kuntz, a daily routine mostly, but not completely, unchanged. Since he first arrived in Nationals spring training, his sessions of catch have included more throws, from a further distance, with greater intensity. "They don't want me to put too much pressure on it, but they just want it to be a fluid throw," Strasburg said this afternoon. "I'm just going out there nice free and easy. I'm not lobbing the ball. At the same time, I'm not trying play Burnout or anything." Strasburg updated the media on his rehab, and, really, there isn't a great deal that's changed. "I'm just going out there, doing what I've got to do each day," he said. The difference for Strasburg, compared to the winter, is the setting. He can be around baseball and teammates, which is both a comfort and a tease. "It has its moments," Strasburg said. "It's great to go out there, pick up a baseball. But there's so much downtime in between. It's pretty hard going out there and doing infield practice with the pitchers, not being able to throw. I'm standing around watching a game, knowing I'm not going to be pitching. It's a different perspective. At the same time, I'm able to look at the game almost like I'm a fan. You really just take the time to set aside what I have to accomplish here in spring training and really just focus on learning." Strasburg revealed that he's lost around 15 pounds. You can tell - even owner Mark Lerner mentioned the other day how good he thought Strasburg looked. The weight loss, spurred by a change in diet, Strasburg said, has helped Strasburg bounce back quicker from workouts. Strasburg was hesitant to address his upcoming schedule. Nationals doctors do not share with him their plan, only what he does on a particular day. "We're not going to have all these high expectations and then it not happen," Strasburg said. "The body has a natural healing process. You can't rush that. Whenever I'm ready, I'm going to be ready." For Strasburg, there is one inevitability. At the end of the month, the Nationals will head north and leave him in Viera, basically alone in the sticky spring heat. That's the toughest part, Jordan Zimmermann has told him. Strasburg has had a taste of baseball this spring, and soon, it's going to disappear. "It's going to be tough," Strasburg said. "Right now, you feel part of the team. When they all head up north, it's going to be different. Days are going to feel a lot longer, that's for sure."