Q&A with Stephen Strasburg
It is hard to believe that Stephen Strasburg is just 22-years-old. Most kids his age are worried about the job market right now but Strasburg is just worried about winning his sixth game in his tenth Major League start. He hasn’t even pitched in the Majors for two months but he has already become a national sensation.
According to the omnipotent Elias Sports Bureau, Strasburg is just the second pitcher in MLB history to strike out five or more and allowed three earned runs or less in each of first nine Big League starts. Who is the other pitcher? He is joined on the short list by the Red’s Gary Nolen (11 starts in ’67).
Yeah, he is kind of a big deal. Notes from NatsTown sat down with him to find out what it is like to be Stephen Strasburg. You might be surprised.
Have you been able to adjust to the DC lifestyle?
It’s not much different than what it is back home. I’ve been used to the professional baseball lifestyle since the start of the season. It’s pretty much the same thing–show up to the field around 2 p.m., get your work in when you’re not pitching. When you are pitching, try to go out there and answer the bell.
I watched the interview when you and Drew interviewed each other at Harrisburg. You’re a really funny person. Do you ever feel like you’re not able to show that side?
I don’t know. I feel like if the questions are good, it helps me to relax a little bit. But some people just don’t like that sense of humor, so sometimes you just got to be boring.
Do you like being boring?
It’s easier. It’s easier to not slip up or anything.
It seems like you and Drew Storen’s personalities really complement each other well. What is the importance of having Drew as a teammate?
Drew’s a great guy. He’s the kind of guy that you can watch and see what it means to be a true competitor. He’s not going out there, necessarily, and competing against the other team. He’s competing with himself. And if he’s able to get his stuff down, compete, and do what he knows he can, it doesn’t matter who’s in the box, he’s going to get them out.
Is that how you would describe yourself as a competitor?
Absolutely because you can’t control who’s in the box. You can only control the time right before the ball leaves your hand and then after that, it’s out of your control.
What have you learned about pitching in particular during your first two months?
I’ve learned that it’s going to take a few times just to get comfortable, get experience, to learn how to get a game plan for certain people. Bottom line, I’m just enjoying this ride here and not really putting too many expectations on myself and whatever happens, happens.
From the day you were drafted to your Major League debut was a perfect calendar year. How would you describe that 365-day journey?
It seems like it was yesterday. This year is such a blur. Things have happened and I’m very thankful for everything.
Have you been able to take a step back and reflect on your Major League debut?
Not really. I’m always living in the now, looking towards the future. Obviously, if you asked me, “What do you want your debut to be like?” I’m sure it would be something like that. But like I said, I didn’t have any expectations and I’m going to continue to not have any expectations because that’s where a guy is going to get in trouble. Sometimes he hears the hype and starts to believe it. That’s just not what I’m about because a lot of that hype can be a little out there.
There is stuff about you everywhere. How do you avoid the hype? Is it possible? It seems like you can’t turn on your TV.
I just don’t really watch the sports channels.
You’re even on the Spanish channels.
I don’t know too much Spanish. It’s all good. It’s good for this organization, to get national exposure, but I don’t take anything to heart.
You did David Letterman’s Top Ten. Do you really put Icy Hot on your toast?
No, I don’t think that’s healthy.
What is it like being Stephen Strasburg?
I am just another guy in the clubhouse, to be quite honest. That’s one thing–people on the outside see all this stuff on the TV and they think I’m somebody that I’m really not. I’m just another guy. We’re all coming out here, trying to win some games. That’s how I’m always going to be.
Is it hard to have that mentality that you’re just another guy when everyone else sees you as anything but another guy?
It’s tough, but I’ve been very thankful to have a great support system in my life, been around some coaches throughout my career that have really put everything into perspective. I know what’s important and the importance of being a good teammate and really going out there to fight for what you believe in. And I’m going to do that for however long my career is.
Your career is just beginning but that hasn’t stopped people from coming up with Strasburg-isms. You want to hear a few?
Here are some funny one’s I found:
“Stephen Strasburg once struck out former San Diego State coach Tony Gwynn… in 1993.”
“In his first start in the ’08 Olympics, Strasburg held the Netherlands to one hit over seven innings. Citing an unfair advantage, the IOC voted baseball out of the 2012 games.”
“There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Stephen Strasburg lives in Washington, DC.”
“Though a native of San Diego, Strasburg never took up surfing, indicating tendency to ‘walk on water’ as a major impediment.”
“Sony created PlayStation 3 because it was the only way to fit Stephen Strasburg’s greatness onto one screen.”
Those are pretty funny. If you’re compared to Chuck Norris, that’s saying something (laughing).