SAN DIEGO — Stephen Strasburg pitched against the Mets on Friday, the same day word came down that he would not pitch in the All-Star Game, and that Max Scherzer would go in his place. He explained the decision briefly after the game: He had just been injured, he and the team wanted to be cautious, starting the first game after the break would help the Nationals more than pitching an inning during it.
All of that made sense, of course, though it seemed to disregard the sentimental aspect of the situation. This year’s game is in Strasburg’s hometown, where he pitched in high school and then college, coached by San Diego legend Tony Gwynn, and so on and so on. Was it hard to turn that chance down?
“Absolutely,” Strasburg said. “But it wasn’t really a decision that I had to think over. It was something where the team wanted me to not do it, so them being my employer, this being a game that’s fun for the fans, my allegiance is to the Nationals. They want me to make as many starts as possible, and hopefully quality starts, so I’m gonna try to do that. That was the biggest concern — being fully ready to go for the second half.”
Strasburg came off the disabled list on July 3 after battling an upper back injury that forced him to miss two starts last month. He has had trouble with similarly strange injuries in the past, and wanted to be cautious not to cause more trouble. The 27-year-old described the decision as “pretty mutual” between himself and the Nationals, though his Manager Dusty Baker said ultimately, decisions like that come down to the player. Strasburg noted that he had missed two starts, and wanted to make up for those. He decided to save himself for Nationals starts, sentimental though an all-star outing in front of his home crowd might be.
“I really don’t look that far ahead in advance,” Strasburg said. “I made a bunch of starts here in college, I’ve made a couple of starts at Petco in the past, but it’s not like I’m circling it on my calendar.”
San Francisco Giants right-hander Johnny Cueto will start the game for the National League. Mets Manager Terry Collins, who will lead the NL group Tuesday night, said he will try to make sure the pitchers voted in by the players will get in the game early. Scherzer was a late addition, and therefore seems like he may be a lower priority for Collins as he makes his pitching decisions. Scherzer, who would be pitching on two days rest, has started an all-star game before, and said he would like to pitch in this one.