Strasburg, not Gonzalez, gets Game 2 for Nationals at Braves
WASHINGTON (AP) Stephen Strasburg will start the second game of the season for the Nationals at the Atlanta Braves, a switch from Washington's original plan.
Nationals manager Dusty Baker had said during spring training that Gio Gonzalez would pitch Game 2 in Atlanta on Wednesday. Strasburg had been scheduled to pitch Thursday for the Nationals Park home opener against the Miami Marlins.
''We changed it around,'' Baker said before Washington's exhibition finale on Saturday against the Minnesota Twins.
The Nationals will begin the season with Max Scherzer facing the Braves on Monday for opening day. After a day off, Strasburg - the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 amateur draft who can become a free agent after this season - will follow on Wednesday.
Strasburg doesn't have the best track record at Atlanta's Turner Field, which is shutting after this season: His 4.79 ERA in nine starts there is much higher than the 3.02 ERA he has in 10 starts against the Braves in Washington and his overall career ERA of 3.09 against all opponents.
As for his Game 3 starter? Baker wouldn't commit, saying: ''We'll let you know.''
He said that lefty Gonzalez and right-hander Joe Ross will be available out of the bullpen during the two-game series in Atlanta. The fifth member of the Nationals' rotation is righty Tanner Roark.
Baker also discussed the team's final roster moves on Saturday. Those were announced after the Nationals beat the Twins 4-3 on Friday night and after the manager's postgame news conference.
Right-handed sinkerballer Blake Treinen grabbed the last bullpen opening, while outfielder Chris Heisey took the final bench spot.
Baker said Treinen ''had an outstanding spring'' and termed him ''one of our back-end-of-the-bullpen guys.''
''It appears,'' Baker said, ''that he's maturing in front of our very eyes and he's gaining confidence every day.''
The manager called the choice of Heisey over Reed Johnson and Matt den Dekker ''a very, very, very tough decision.''
Baker managed Heisey when both were with the Cincinnati Reds and said the player's ''power is intriguing.'' Baker also said Heisey had ''more to offer as far as playing all three outfield positions, and a little more speed, little better throwing arm.''
One of the relievers Treinen beat out was Trevor Gott, acquired in December in a trade that sent infielder Yunel Escobar to the Los Angeles Angels.
''We love his stuff. We love his demeanor. He doesn't appear to be intimidated by anybody,'' Baker said about Gott, adding that he told the reliever to work on his secondary pitches to go along with his ''electric fastball.''
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