UPDATE, 4:34 p.m.: Strasburg had to be lifted in mid-inning in the second, as he hit his pitch limit (and actually went one over). The inning also featured a solo homer off Strasburg by Grashoppers catcher Jacob Realmuto. (I imagine Strasburg will file that one away for future reference, should he ever encounter Mr. Realmuto again). But Strasburg also showed more flashes of greatness in the second, striking out two more batters, one of them on a wicked breaking ball, and throwing only two balls in the frame among 15 pitches. In total, he threw 31 pitches, 25 of them for strikes (including six swinging strikes).
UPDATE, 4:16 p.m.: Strasburg’s first inning was at times dominant, as he threw his first eight pitches for strikes, struck out the first two Greensboro batters of the game, and sat at 96 to 98 mph with his fastball. But he also gave up a two-out single to Christian Yelich, just out of reach of Hagerstown’s second baseman. But after falling behind 3-1 to the next batter, Strasburg induced a grounder to first to end the inning. The totals: 16 pitches, 12 strikes.
Original post: Greetings from Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown, Md., where I and about 65 of my dearest media friends have gathered to witness the return of Stephen Strasburg. In a few minutes, he will take the mound here in the first start of his minor-league rehabilitation assignment, following reconstructive elbow surgery in Sept. 2010.
This will also be Strasburg’s 24th professional regular season start, of which I have witnessed 22 of the previous 23, and I can say with certainty the media contingent here far surpasses anything he has drawn in any of his 2010 minor league starts — including his pro debut for Class AA Harrisburg in Altoona, Pa. in April 2010. The media pack is also more than twice as large as the one that saw Bryce Harper make his home debut for the Hagerstown Suns four months ago.
Strasburg, 23, emerged from the Suns’ clubhouse at around 3:27 p.m. to begin warming up, and began looking around for a clock in the stadium, so he can time each phase of his normal pregame ritual. He was told there is no clock, but that someone would keep him updated periodically.
This will be a quick post; Strasburg is scheduled to throw only two innings, and a maximum of 30 pitches. I’ll update after each frame. One request: If you’re watching on TV, please post some radar readings in the comments section, because there are no radar readouts here at the stadium, and from up in the pressbox I can’t get down to the scouts’ section to see what their guns say.