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Strasburg draws hubbub to camp

VIERA — Stephen Strasburg is already creating quite a buzz in spring training.

About 150 fans, twice the normal number for Washington's first workout, watched Nationals pitchers and catchers practice Sunday. Most had their eyes squarely on the No. 1 pick in June's draft.

Strasburg threw 37 pitches — matching his jersey number — during his nine-minute session, one of five pitchers manager Jim Riggleman watched intently. Strasburg tossed four-seam fastballs, two-seamers, a slider/curveball hybrid and changeups.

After the outing, Riggleman tried to temper expectations swirling around the right-hander.

"We're open-minded. Everybody's performances will determine where they end up," Riggleman said. "(Strasburg) could pitch real well down here, but we still may feel like the development process is to be respected."

If Strasburg, 21, starts his first professional season in the minors, the San Diego State product said that's fine.

"They have a plan for me," he said. "I trust that they're going to handle me the right way. You just got to worry about what you can control, and that's going out there and trying to help your team win a ballgame."

DAMON DEAL CLOSE: Outfielder Johnny Damon completed his physical with the Tigers, clearing the way for the team to finalize a one-year, $8 million contract, the Associated Press reported. Damon, 36, also had been courted by the White Sox and Rays since leaving the Yankees as a free agent.

LAUGHING IT OFF: Dodgers right-hander Vicente Padilla said he feels 100 percent now, three months after being accidentally shot. Padilla said he was practicing with a small handgun on Nov. 3 in his native Nicaragua when the weapon jammed. He said a friend was trying to fix the problem when the gun accidentally fired. The bullet went into Padilla's upper right thigh and came out the back of his leg. He gave no more specifics on the weapon, offering, "that's my story and I'm sticking to it," and breaking into a grin.

A'S: Two-time All-Star right-hander Justin Duchscherer, who missed all of last season after having surgery on his right elbow and being treated for clinical depression, didn't throw during the first workout for pitchers and catchers. Duchscherer is feeling pain in his lower back and is likely to undergo some procedure today.

D'BACKS: Third baseman Mark Reynolds, coming off a 44-homer season, said his agent is in "pretty heavy talks" on a new contract. Reynolds, 26, said he couldn't share figures, but the deal would be for the two or three arbitration-eligible seasons beginning in 2011.

RED SOX: Right-hander Josh Beckett, who is in the final year of a four-year deal, said he has talked with the team about a new contract but gave no details. He said he probably won't speak publicly about it during spring training.

TWINS: Left-hander Francisco Liriano said he rediscovered his slider during a strong winter season in the Dominican Republic. Liriano had lost his feel for the pitch in his first three seasons after Tommy John surgery but was finally able to rear back and let it fly in the Dominican League, where he went 3-1 with a 0.49 ERA in seven postseason appearances for Leones del Escogido.

WHITE SOX: Ozzie Guillen wasted little time in clearing up one question, naming left-hander Mark Buehrle as his opening day starter April 5 against Cleveland.

Strasburg draws hubbub to camp 02/21/10 [Last modified: Sunday, February 21, 2010 9:42pm]
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