Earlier this week, Stephen Strasburg was named to the National League all-star team and spoke of how special the honor was for him because the game will be played in his hometown of San Diego. Strasburg, however, will not pitch in the game, Major League Baseball announced Friday afternoon. His general manager, Mike Rizzo, and manager, Dusty Baker, said that while they had input, the decision ultimately came down to Strasburg, and was mostly because of the back injury from which he returned last week.
“All I know is that, kind of no matter what the group says, it boils down to your decision, kind of,” Baker said. “The group can have some input, but basically, how do you tell a grown man he can’t pitch in the all-star game? It’s probably a combination of [his decision and ours].”
Fellow Nationals starter Max Scherzer will replace Strasburg on the roster to give the Nationals five all-stars, the most for the team since the franchise moved to Washington in 2005. Only the Chicago Cubs, who have seven representatives, will have more players on the National League team.
“I was so pumped,” Scherzer said, beaming all the while. “The All-Star Games are so much fun to go to. It’s one of the highest recognitions you can get. When I heard the news that I was going to be able to replace Stras, that Terry had picked me, I was real excited.”
The 27-year-old Strasburg, who is still expected to attend the festivities, is 11-0 with a 2.71 ERA this season. He returned from the disabled list last Sunday to throw 6 2/3 innings without allowing a hit against the Cincinnati Reds. He is slated to make his final start before the break Friday against the New York Mets. Strasburg did not address the decision not to pitch Friday because starters do not talk the day they pitch.
“He’ll be on three days’ rest. It will cost him time again with us,” Baker said. “I’m just glad he’s going, especially in his hometown, but there’s a lot at risk with Stephen because he just came off the DL. You don’t know how he’s going to come through this game tonight. Everyone just thought it would be better if he didn’t start or pitch.”
Scherzer, 31, is 9-6 with a 3.21 ERA and leads the majors with 155 strikeouts in 120 2/3 innings pitched. This will be his fourth straight all-star game appearance. He will make his final start before Tuesday’s exhibition on Saturday.
“It’s the best All-Star Game of any sport,” Scherzer said. “This is a real game where you see the best of the best. It’s unlike football, where that’s a fairy tale. Basketball, they don’t even play defense. It’s like 200-200. Hockey, it’s like a 10-9 game. Baseball, this is actually a real game. Something’s on the line.”