The Washington Post

Stephen Strasburg’s change-up, Anthony Rendon homers, Roy Halladay on Strasburg


There was actually a game played on Wednesday in Clearwater, and Stephen Strasburg, in certain aspects, made progress in his third start of the spring. He breezed through the first two innings of his start before his command wavered in the third inning. The dry and windy conditions added to the difficulty, making it hard to grip the ball and control its movement. According to a friendly scout, Strasburg’s fastball sat between 94 and 97 miles per hour.

From the first inning, it was apparent that Strasburg was going to heavily feature his change-up. He struck out six batters, four of them left-handers and all on his change-up. The pitch starts inside on left-handers and dives across and down with such movement it’s practically unfair.

“It’s definitely the first pitch of everything to really start to come back,” Strasburg said. “And getting the movement that I want and I just want to keep it there and not try and change anything with that.

“And really just keep on working on fastball command. I feel like that was good early on. And definitely an improvement from the past couple games, especially going away. Last couple games, I was really cutting the ball over there and not really catching any plate and just missing by a few inches. I was really able to stay on line a lot better today.”

>>> Anthony Rendon, who started at shortstop and hit third, hit a solo home run in the sixth inning and is now 8 for 20 with three doubles, three home runs and eight RBI in nine spring training games. “I just trying to have fun every day and not look at the numbers,” he said.

>>> Fernando Abad, who rose from obscurity to a potential left-handed reliever for the big league club, had his first shaky outing of the spring. He was tough against left-handers Ben Revere and Chase Utley but then unraveled. He allowed two runs on three hits over 1 1/3 innings. According to that friendly scout, Abad’s fastball sat between 90-92 mph.

>>> Micah Owings made his first appearance in over a week after dealing with a hurt left wrist. He smacked an RBI double in the sixth inning and later made a nifty play at first base.

>>> Phillies reporters asked Roy Halladay if he was a fan of Strasburg and he had an interesting response.

“My kids are,” he said. “It’s hard to be a fan of someone you’re in the same division with. I hate to use the word ‘kid’ because he’s young. He’s a good guy. He stands for a lot of the right things. He’s a hard worker. He’s been very humble. He’s been very good for the game of baseball. He’s handled everything that has been put on him pretty well. I’m definitely more impressed by that than the stuff and what he does on the field. That’s where you gain respect from other players, how you handle yourself off the field.

James Wagner joined the Post in August 2010 and, prior to covering the Nationals, covered high school sports across the region.



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James Wagner · March 6, 2013