Strasburg hopes runs by beach prep him for 162-game marathon

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) That Stephen Strasburg is at spring training with the Washington Nationals, ready from the get-go after missing the end of last season, does not necessarily excite him.

''I don't think that's been the issue in past years. Minus my Tommy John year, I've always been here Day 1,'' Strasburg said. ''Question is, I guess, Day 162 - or whatever it is, with those off days.''

The right-hander's 2016 came to an early end because of an injury, the second time in his career that he has not participated in a Nationals' postseason. Now Strasburg wants to be around come October, and is hoping a change in his offseason fitness regimen - running longer distances during the offseason - will help him make it through all of next season without a problem.

''It's kind of corny, but they say the season's not a sprint, it's a marathon,'' said Strasburg, who tried out all of his pitches during a 10-minute bullpen session on Thursday, the first workout day for Nationals pitchers and catchers.

He said he ran 6-7 miles every Sunday, and about 3-4 on Wednesday at home in California, sometimes running on the sand, sometimes on a road that ran along the beach.

''For a guy my size, it takes three or four days to recover from it,'' the 6-foot-4 pitcher said. ''But I think as long as I was able to do it, but then once I started to get more into throwing every day, I tapered it down, so I did a little bit less - more sprint-type cardio, but on a daily basis.''

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 amateur draft had Tommy John surgery in August 2011, then was shut down by the Nationals late in 2012 to protect his repaired elbow. Last season, he started 13-0 with a 2.51 ERA, and in the midst of that stretch signed a $175 million, seven-year contract that begins next year. He went on the DL with elbow soreness in August after allowing 19 earned runs in 11 2/3 innings over three outings, then left his first start back in the third inning and did not pitch again.

Strasburg's final stats for 2016 were 15-4 with a 3.60 ERA and 183 strikeouts in only 147 2/3 innings.

As for his first time on a mound this spring?

''Strasburg looked very good. Good to see. We haven't seen him on the bump since September,'' pitching coach Mike Maddux said. ''It came out hot; free and easy.''

Derek Norris, who caught Strasburg's session, assessed it this way: ''Looked healthy, looked sharp, looked strong. Had good command of all four of his pitches.''

''I think he knows that injuries have kind of plagued him for a couple years,'' Norris said, ''and I think the one thing on his mind is taking it one step at a time and making sure he's healthy.''

NOTES: RHP Max Scherzer, who is not yet ready to take bullpen sessions as he recovers from a broken knuckle, threw long toss Friday, then pitched on flat ground on outfield grass for 12 minutes, occasionally flexing his right hand. About 15 minutes later, he chatted with GM Mike Rizzo. ... The first official full-squad workout is not scheduled until Sunday, but several players took infield grounders Friday, including 2B Daniel Murphy and SS Trea Turner, who is moving back to his natural position after time in CF in 2016. ... RF Bryce Harper arrived in the clubhouse wearing a backward-turned Dallas Cowboys hat. Asked his initial takeaway from seeing Harper, manager Dusty Baker said: ''He looked strong. But he always looks strong. My first impression is he's a Cowboys fan.''

---

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide — from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Grant Wahl, Andy Staples and more — delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.