Strasburg impresses facing hitters in BP

Strasburg impresses facing hitters in BP

VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals had batting practice for the first time on Sunday. The highlight was right-hander Stephen Strasburg facing infielder Mark DeRosa and outfielder Rick Ankiel.

Strasburg looked like he was in midseason form -- neither Ankiel nor DeRosa hit the ball hard during the session.

"I felt great. Everything was normal," Strasburg said. "I have high expectation of myself, especially out there."

After Strasburg made his Major League debut on June 8, 2010, against the Pirates, then-Nationals pitcher Jason Marquis sent a text message to DeRosa, then with the Giants, and gave a glowing scouting report on Strasburg.

"You to need to watch this," Marquis told DeRosa.

DeRosa, who celebrated his 37th birthday on Sunday, was impressed by what he saw from Strasburg. It was the first time DeRosa faced Strasburg in any kind of competition.

"That's special," DeRosa said about Strasburg's batting practice. "It looks like he is not even trying out there. The ball is exploding out of his hands. I'm with Rick. I wasn't excited facing [Strasburg] and Gio [Gonzalez] on the first day, but [jokingly] I kind of think everything is going to pale in comparison. ... I expected nothing less than unhittable stuff. I was proud I put the ball in play. I did ground out to second."

Outfielder Bryce Harper sounded like he was relieved that he didn't have to face Strasburg on the first day of BP. Harper ended up facing another tough pitcher -- closer Drew Storen.

"Absolutely, I wanted to face him so bad. I wanted to see what he was about. If he made me look stupid, I didn't even care," Harper said about Strasburg. ... I don't know if I'd want to face him; I'm glad he's on my team. But it might be fun to step in there and see what he look like from that angle. I watched from the dugout when I was in Harrisburg, so that's as close as I want to get to that."