Stephen Strasburg threw well in his spring debut for the Nationals yesterday, representing a promising step for the key righty, as Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com reports. Notably, Strasburg also showed some tweaks to his approach that he evidently intends to carry into the 2017 season. Most interestingly, the veteran hurler worked exclusively from the stretch, explaining that he has toyed with that idea after finding it increasingly difficult to maintain his mechanics from a full windup. Likewise, he’s planning to pare back the usage of his slider, an offering that he relied on far more in 2016 than ever before. The hope is that by utilizing that pitch less, and backing off on his work between starts, Strasburg can better maintain his health throughout a full season.
Here’s more from the National League:
- Braves prospect Ozzie Albies is set to be examined on Monday, with hopes he’ll be cleared for full baseball activities, as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Albies, who is working back from an olecranon fracture in his right elbow, may be ready for game action as soon as the middle of next week. That still doesn’t leave much time or opportunity for him to earn an Opening Day job, though that possibility likely evaporated when the injury took place. The 20-year-old will likely end up spending a bit more time refining his game in the upper minors, though it seems reasonable to anticipate he’ll get the call up to the majors at some point in the season to come.
- Meanwhile, fellow Braves prospect Dustin Peterson will be delayed to start the season after undergoing hamate surgery, per a club announcement. Removal of the hook of the hamate bone is a fairly common procedure, and doesn’t appear to pose a significant problem in the long run, but it tends to sap power for some time upon a player’s return. The 22-year-old outfielder is seen as an increasingly important part of Atlanta’s future. Last year, he slashed .282/.343/.431 and hit a dozen home runs in 578 plate appearances at Double-A, representing a big step forward from his prior output. Peterson came to the Braves from the Padres as part of the pre-2015 Justin Upton trade.
- The Rockies are exercising caution with prized young outfielder David Dahl, with manager Bud Black suggesting that his upper back injury is a bit more concerning than had initially been hoped, as Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports. Dahl will likely be out for a “few weeks” as the organization takes a closer look at the issue and treats it, which seemingly makes him unlikely to join the active roster at the start of the season. Just what that means for the organization remains unclear, but it likely clears the way for Gerardo Parra to handle regular duties in left field to begin the year. While a big showing from top prospect Raimel Tapia could present him with a chance to return to the majors, perhaps the injury opens the door most clearly for the right-handed-hitting Stephen Cardullo to head north with the club.