Strasburg will start Grapefruit League opener

Strasburg will start Grapefruit League opener
February 18, 2013, 1:30 pm
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Strasburg ready to put innings limits behind him

VIERA, Fla. -- Stephen Strasburg won't have to wait long to put last year's shutdown controversy behind him and turn attention to his performance this season.

Manager Davey Johnson said today his ace right-hander will start the Nationals' Grapefruit League opener, Saturday against the Mets in Port St. Lucie.

The exhibition opening day assignment isn't necessarily an honor being bestowed upon Strasburg as the Nationals' best start as much as it helps line him up to start the only Opening Day game that truly matters: April 1 against the Marlins at Nationals Park.

Still, Strasburg's first appearance against an opposing team since his abrupt shutdown last September will draw plenty of attention and -- if the 24-year-old has his way -- officially put an end to talk of the Nationals' controversial decision not to let him finish out the 2012 season while his team was headed for its first-ever playoff berth.

Strasburg will likely pitch only two or three innings in his exhibition debut, the first of perhaps seven starts he'll make this spring while preparing himself for the regular season.

Johnson announced a couple more pitching assignments for the first weekend of Grapefruit League play. Jordan Zimmermann will start Sunday's home opener against the Marlins, with Gio Gonzalez then getting the call Monday night against the Mets in Port St. Lucie.

Johnson did not reveal how his rotation will round out after those top three starters, but Dan Haren and Ross Detwiler will pitch exhibition games 4 and 5 in some order.