We have spent the better part of a decade watching Stephen Strasburg’s every move — how he shook his arm, where he landed with his foot, whether he wiped sweat from his brow, what velocity he registered on the radar gun. And yet for someone who has been observed so closely over such a long stretch, we don’t know him, not in the way we feel like we know Ryan Zimmerman or Max Scherzer or even Sean Doolittle.
So let’s introduce a character we might not have understood over the first 206 starts of his major league career, so that maybe we can appreciate the next 206: Strasburg is a thoughtful, competitive, mindful and evolving veteran who, at 30, might well have his best years ahead of him.
“You always try to learn and improve, however you can,” he said the other morning.
Yes, it’s March, and the unrelentingly bright Florida skies might color the way we think. All of baseball has been conditioned to brace for Strasburg’s next injury. But in spring, allow a thought: What if it doesn’t come? Who might we get to know?
“He’s turned himself into a guy that he wants to be a workhorse and an innings-eater,” Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo said. Yes, he kept a straight face — because he meant it.
What we know: Strasburg is less than expansive, more than reserved. His resting face isn’t sunshine; it’s thunderclouds. He has a startling ability to move past people staring blankly ahead. Even though he debuted in Washington in 2010 — can that be true? — there remains a gulf between the pitcher, the person and our understanding of both.