The Washington Nationals expressed concern today over the latest physical setback for rookie pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg, but maintained they are positive about his long-term stability.
"He is experiencing some discomfort and that is never something you want for a player, of course," said Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo. "However, most of the pain seems to be centralized in a huge elbow tumor he has suddenly developed, so it's nothing structurally wrong, which is an obvious relief."
The Nationals discovered the elbow tumor during an MRI on Strasburg's strained forearm, but it had been quite visible for several days, protruding off of his right elbow to the size of a watermelon. The team hopes the tumor can be easily removed with out-patient surgery, although that surgery will present some complications as Strasburg developed hemophilia on Tuesday. He also must now breathe pure oxygen at all times due to Strasburg Syndrome, a newly-discovered lung disease affecting Stephen Strasburg.
"These are typical injuries for a young pitcher throwing significant innings for the first time in his career," said Rizzo. "The fact of the matter is that we were planning to limit his work down the stretch anyway, so everything is in line with our plan."
Rizzo then excused himself to continue administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to the flame-throwing rookie in hopes Strasburg can make his next scheduled start.
Even before his dominant Major League debut, StephenStrasburghad been turning heads with his overpowering fastball and devastating curve. But today the 21-year-old right hander raised eyebrows for a much different reason, announcing at a morning press conference that he is dropping his birth name in favor of the mound name, Ace Heater.
The change, which is effective immediately, was made with the hopes of improving the young flamethrower’s marketability.
"Cary Grant was born Archibald Leach. Rita Hayworth was Margarita Cansino," said Scott Boras, Heater's agent. "Without their stage names, they never would have made it as big as they did. If actors can do it, we see no reason why baseball players can do it. And, let's be honest, Stephen Strasburg isn't any better than Archibald Leach. At the same time, Ace Heater is way more kickass than Cary Grant."
Although not everyone agrees, most notably Heater's mother, Mary Ann Strasburg.
“Ace Heater!? Who the heck does he think he is?” said Mary Ann. “What’s wrong with the name Stephen? There’s no St. Ace, I’ll tell you that much. Nor does he have a great uncle Ace who served in World War II, may he rest in peace."
According to Heater, the decision to change his name was an easy one. After Boras pitched him the idea of being the first person to have a mound name, it wasn’t a matter of if he was going to take one, but what it was going to be.
“At first I was pretty set on Chaz Kay, but Scott told me it was too subtle. I tried to meet him halfway with Chuck Kay, but then we decided that sounded too much like Jackee. And I'm just not sassy enough to pull that off."
After hours of discussion and deliberation, the two finally agreed on a name. Heater says he’s satisfied with the name he chose because it highlights his two greatest attributes, “being a pitcher and throwing really fast.”
Washington Nationals phenom pitcher Stephen Strasburg impressed in his major league debut Tuesday night when he struck out three Pittsburgh Pirates batters using just one of his awe-inspiring pitches.
“I’m not sure what happened,” said Pirates first baseman Garrett Jones, who was the first batter put down by Strasburg in the top of the seventh. “I think what it was is that he threw the first pitch so fast, it ripped right through the catcher, the umpire, the back wall of the stadium and then circumnavigated the earth – two times to get me to strike out, and then six more times to set down the two guys behind me. Needless to say, it was a really fast pitch. And I think that was even his change-up.”
Pirates outfielder Delwyn Young, who was up after Jones, remembers the feat differently.
"Really? That’s what Garrett says happened?” said Young. “All I remember is seeing Strasburg throw the first pitch and then Pudge Rodriguez’s glove hand tear apart in an explosion of blood and bone. I passed out then. When I woke up, the inning was over. I assumed I was called out by forfeit or something because I was laying passed out in the batter’s box. But I guess maybe in my shock I came to, went to the plate and watched as that pitch came around the globe three more times.”
Even Strasburg, the greatest pitcher ever, says he doesn’t know for sure how he set down the order on just one pitch.
“I’ve struck out the side before,” he said. “Actually, every inning I’ve ever pitched I’ve done it. But never on one pitch before. Three? Yes. Two pitches? A few times. But never just one pitch. The thing is, I don’t remember what happened exactly. I’m usually distracted when I’m on the mound because baseball is so easy for me that I’m lost in my head solving world hunger and figuring out how to stop oil spills and stuff. Which reminds me, I need to pass my findings onto the people down in New Orleans. I’ll just affix a note to a baseball and throw it all the way down there.”
Whatever pitch it was that Strasburg used to strike out the side, he knows it wasn’t his curveball.
“I can’t throw my curveball. It’s unsafe to do it in a stadium,” he said. “It actually curves so much that it starts out way into the stands before snapping back over the plate. I don’t want to hit some kid or old lady in the stands in the face.”
Nationals manager Jim Riggelman says striking out the side on one pitch is just the tip of the iceberg with Strasburg.
"Stephen is only 21 years old, his whole career is ahead of him," he said. "Plus, maybe one day he'll play for the Yankees. Ooh! Or even the Red Sox. Then not only would he be great, but he would be, like, super important and relevant."
Republican leadership took steps today to prohibit Stephen Strasburg from making his first major league start for the Washington Nationals, calling it a "spectacle" that "only serves the interests of those inside the beltway."
"I've talked to people all across the country who have told me they don't want this to happen," said House Minority Leader John Boehner. "They could use a phenom pitching in their city, in their state and not just for the fat cats in Washington. So we plan to stop this from happening. Also, we had a hankering for some obstruction. It's been a few weeks, this is the biggest thing everyone in town is talking about, and we just can't wait anymore for the Supreme Court confirmation hearings to start."
Conservative radio talk show hosts and bloggers pounced on the directive, noting the "odd coincidence" that Strasburg just happened to land with the team for which President Obama threw out the first pitch on Opening Day.
"They need to check their facts," said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. "I thought everyone knew the president is a White Sox fan, so there is no way he would arrange for Stephen Strasburg to why the hell am I even having this ridiculous discussion?"
Others noted that Strasburg may be a socialist, thanks to his California upbringing, or maybe even a Nazi due to his German surname.
Movement superstar Sarah Palin mocked the Nationals in a post on her Facebook page: "You drafted Stephen Strasburg a year ago, Washington. Yet you're still in last place. How's that hopey, changey stuff working out for ya?"
President Obama ignored the controversy, saying only: "I welcome Stephen Strasburg to Washington and wish him all the best. And, if he has free time, I'd love for him to stop by the White House and teach me how to throw a baseball less Kenyan. Ah, shit."
News Who is Bryce Harper?
Baseball phenom Bryce Harper will be the first pick in the Major League Baseball draft. He has been dubbed “The Chosen One” bySports Illustrated.
Who is this guy? Here are some facts about Bryce Harper.
Despite being only 17 years old, Harper stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 205 pounds.Harperhas already received numerous endorsement contract offers from makers of husky jeans.
Harper hit the longest home run in the history of Tropicana Field, a 502-foot blast that would have flown farther had it not hit the back wall of the dome.Thanks to his aluminum bat, Harper has also hit 16 ground-rule doubles in his career while attempting to bunt.
The phenom has been compared to Justin Upton, Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey, Jr.A career .268 hitter who strikes out once every three at-bats, a cheater/choker/she-male lover who fancies himself a centaur, and a chubby guy who was injured for half his career. With scouts like these … bada-BOOM!
According toSports Illustrated, Harper “has faster bat speed than Mark McGwire in his prime and runs so fast that he scored on wild pitches six times [ ] from second base. As a catcher he picks off runners from his knees, and when he pitches, he throws a fastball that has been clocked at 96 mph. He also does volunteer work, holds down a 3.5 grade point average and attends religious education classes nearly every morning before school.”And he is an accomplished artist who has earned rave reviews for his works depicting Tim Tebow’s dainty, pink vagina.
Harper already is known for his trademark eye black, which covers both of his cheeks. While Tebow can only write a Bible verse on his eye black, Harper is able to post entire Bible chapters.
Harper and his parents are being advised by Scott Boras and the 17 year-old says his dreams include to “Play in Yankee Stadium. Play in pinstripes.”As an added part of his large frame, Harper has packed extra muscle into the place where his soul used to be.
Despite his obvious baseball gifts, Harper has drawn criticism for angry outbursts and repeated poor behavior. Clearly he knows he is being drafted by the Nationals and will require some counseling.
In his freshman season of high school, Harper hit a 570-foot home run.570-foot home run as a freshman. Only a 502-foot home run as a sophomore. Violent rages. Looks like someone is coming down off of the steroids-fueled middle school years.
SportsPickle is previewing each MLB team in the lead up to Opening Day 2010.
Today: Washington Nationals (2009: 59-103, last in NL East)
Washington Nationals veterans conducted their annual hazing of the team's rookies today, forcing their humiliated teammates to dress up in Washington Nationals uniforms.
"I know it's all in good fun and every team hazes their rookies every year," said rookie pitcher Ross Detwiler. "But I was hoping for something less embarrassing and degrading. Like maybe having to dress up in lingerie. Or drink bull semen. Anything but this."
Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said he was forced to put on a Nationals jersey when he was drafted by the franchise in 2005 and he's going to make sure every young player who comes after him has to go through the same thing.
"This puts them in their place and it teaches them a lesson about life," said Zimmerman. "It teaches them that life sucks. Do you think I wanted to wear this uniform? Of course not. It torments me every day. But watching other people suffer through the same emotional pain brings me some relief."
And while Zimmerman says the annual rookie hazing will continue, he did think this year's ritual went a bit too far, as several Nationals rookies began weeping and begging for mercy. Rookie shortstop Ian Desmond, not understanding that he didn't have to keep the uniform on forever, picked up a cinder block and jumped into the team's whirlpool to try to drown himself.
"We didn't want anyone to die," said Zimmerman. "Only die inside."
Detwiler said the veterans succeeded.
"It wasn't just that we had to put Nationals uniforms on," he said. "We have to do that for every game. It's that they made us go out in public with them on and wear them home. I've been telling my friends and family that I work as an accountant. But then today I show up in a Nationals jersey. I'll never be able to shake the look of shame that was in my parents' eyes."
Stephen Strasburg’s new employer advised the pitching phenom to wait a few weeks – maybe even a few months – until he tries to cash the first check of his $7.5 million signing bonus.
“Well, he can try to cash it if he wants,” said Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo. “But the check is going to bounce. I mean, we don’t have that kind of money just sitting around in our account. Are you crazy? We’re the Nationals.”
With just minutes before the signing deadline, the Nationals struck a four-year, $15.1 million deal with Strasburg and his agent, Scott Boras. But $7.5 million of the total figure is due in a signing bonus $2.5 million immediately.
"We got a little desperate as time was running out," said Rizzo. "We didn't think we could deal with the fan outrage if we didn't sign him. So we just decided to agree to whatever they wanted while keeping it to ourselves that we couldn't afford near that kind of money, knowing we'd have to write a check that would bounce or give Stephen a bunch of IOUs IOUs written on official Washington Nationals stationary, I should add. We are legit."
The Nationals insist they're good on the money, just not right now.
"Oh, we will pay. People forget that we are a real major league franchise," said Rizzo. "It'll take us a bit to save up the money, but we'll get it. We'll cut some office staff, sell some supplies, sell bats, balls, gloves, players. My neighborhood even has an end-of-summer yard sale I'll take part in to make some extra cash. I'm selling an old record player that I think can bring 30 or 40 bucks."
In case Strasburg doesn't heed the team's advise and tries to cash his bonus check immediately, Rizzo thinks he has a a solid backup plan in place.
"I came up with this earlier in the year when we misspelled the team name 'Natinals' on a few of our jerseys," he said. "I wrote his name wrong on his bonus check. Like, way wrong. It says 'Pay To The Order Of: Stenny Strappensborg.' No bank is going to cash that."
If there's a silver lining to their financial bind, Rizzo says it's this: "Scott Boras isn't going to be getting any money anytime soon either. So that's nice."