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Nats pick wins his minors debut

ALTOONA, Pa. — Wherever Stephen Strasburg's formidable right arm eventually takes him, record books — well, databases on the Web — will forever show his first professional win came April 11, 2010, in his minor-league debut.

He consistently threw in the 97-98 mph range over his five innings Sunday, allowing four runs — one earned — and four hits, striking out eight batters for the Harrisburg Senators, the Nationals' Double-A club.

"I'm just another guy on this team," Strasburg said after pitching against the Altoona Curve.

Not really. Strasburg, the No. 1 overall pick in June's amateur draft, signed a record $15.1 million, four-year contract in August, and his minors debut was aired on ESPNews.

"Guys wanted to face him. Everybody's like, 'We want to see what this guy's about,' " said Altoona C Kris Watts, who walked twice.

With all eyes on him and a more-than-capacity-crowd of 7,887 in attendance, Strasburg threw 82 pitches Sunday and helping Harrisburg beat Altoona 6-4.

"I definitely was super-excited," Strasburg said in a monotone delivery that conveyed anything but excitement. "There was a lot of anticipation for this outing."

For good measure, he delivered an RBI double in Harrisburg's three-run fifth inning for his first professional hit. He never got to bat in college and took a postgame dig at his San Diego State coach, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, saying: "I'm going to call Gwynn up tomorrow and let him have it."

Strasburg's first inning got a little rough with two outs, when he allowed a double off the base of the wall in right-center, followed by an RBI single to center.

After a walk, Strasburg ended the inning with a strikeout on a 97 mph fastball. He threw 24 pitches in the inning, 14 for strikes.

Not exactly living up to all the hype and hoopla, attention that prompted Harrisburg teammate Adam Fox to joke in the clubhouse beforehand: "It's a national holiday today. It's Stephen Strasburg Day."

Bonds on Mac: Former Giants slugger Barry Bonds said he is "proud" of Mark McGwire for returning to baseball as the Cardinals' hitting coach and for admitting his use of performance-enhancing drugs. "I'm proud of what he did. I'm happy for him," said Bonds, who has long denied ever knowingly using performance-enhancers in capturing the career home run record. McGwire's response when told of Bonds' comments. "It's very cool." Bonds, 45, says it's too soon to formally retire, though he has not played since 2007.

Benard admits ster0id use: Former Giants OF Marvin Benard admitted he used steroids during the team's 2002 World Series season to deal with a nagging knee injury. Benard, like Barry Bonds, was in the San Francisco bay area for a reunion of the 2000 NL West champion team. "At the time you think you're doing the right thing for the right reason, then you realize you made a mistake and it's too late and you can't take it back," he said.

Aurilia retires: Rich Aurilia, 38, formally announced his retirement after 15 major-league seasons. The infielder started and ended his career with the Giants, spending 12 years total in San Francisco. Team president Larry Baer said he is making plans to honor Aurilia as a candidate for a spot on the Giants' Wall of Fame.

Red Sox: LF Jacoby Ellsbury was helped off the field after colliding with 3B Adrian Beltre in the ninth inning of Boston's 8-6 win vs. the Royals. Ellsbury and Beltre were chasing a foul fly when they ran into each other. Ellsbury, who said he was kneed in the ribs, isn't sure if he can play today at Minnesota. Preliminary X-rays showed no major break in any bones.

Nats pick wins his minors debut 04/11/10 [Last modified: Monday, April 12, 2010 7:21am]
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