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Nationals unveil Strasburg

Nationals unveil Strasburg

WASHINGTON -- On Thursday, the Nationals gave Mike Rizzo a multiyear deal to become their general manager. But it was sure to be an even bigger event when the team introduced right-hander Stephen Strasburg, the top overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, to the public at Nationals Park on Friday, hours before the team's game against the Brewers.

The Nationals agreed to terms with the right-hander less than two minutes before Monday's midnight ET deadline.

How excited were the fans to see Strasburg? On Wednesday, the Nationals sold 6,000 $1 tickets in three hours for Strasburg's news conference. The Nationals expanded their successful $1 ticket promotion to include additional sections for tonight's game against the Brewers, in celebration of signing Strasburg.

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The seats being offered are in addition to the 1,000 tickets the team originally announced it would make available. Fans interested in purchasing the $1 tickets can visit the Nationals Park main box office.

Strasburg, 20, went 13-1 with a 1.32 ERA in 15 starts this season at San Diego State University en route to being named the Golden Spikes Award winner. He struck out 195 batters and issued just 19 walks in 109 innings.

The Nationals believe Strasburg can make an early impact in their rotation in the near future, maybe as soon as next year.

"The Strasburg signing greatly impacts the Minor League system and the Major League ballclub, but I have to reinforce this: He can't be viewed as the savior of the organization, because as we've seen with Jordan Zimmermann, the shelf life is sometimes pretty quick," Rizzo said. "But we are hoping he is the player we think he is. I know he is the person we think he is. He is a tremendous makeup guy. This guy is what you are looking for in your No. 1 ace, Major League starter."

Among those who are excited about Strasburg's signing is pitching coach Steve McCatty, who can't wait to work with the right-hander.

McCatty wonders, however, how much coaching he will have to do with Strasburg. McCatty has seen video of Strasburg and believes he is polished.

"How much coaching are you going to do, because he looks really good. He has tremendous talent. We are all excited," McCatty said.

McCatty would give two pieces of advice to Strasburg when he reaches the big leagues one day: be yourself on the mound and be willing to learn.

"Go out and compete through every [pitch] and be willing to learn from it," McCatty said. "Obviously, the guy has tremendous stuff, but there are a lot of things that he still needs to learn. It's not always physical talent. It what you do with it. He has to go out and relax and find out what he is."

Pitching matchup
WSH: RHP J.D. Martin (2-2, 4.61 ERA)
Martin received plenty of run support in his last start on Saturday night, as the Nationals downed the Reds, 10-6, at Great American Ball Park. Martin pitched six innings and gave up one unearned run on six hits, even going 2-for-4 with a run scored at the dish. Martin had only one clean inning as the Reds had runners in scoring position in four out of the six frames he pitched. But the righty managed to find a way to get out of major trouble. Martin also took advantage of a break he got in the first inning. After Chris Dickerson led off with a double, the next hitter, Willy Taveras, was called out on batter's interference. Martin managed to get out of the inning, leaving two runners on base.

MIL: RHP Braden Looper (10-6, 5.03 ERA)
Looper pitched six innings in his last start against the Astros, giving up four runs on four hits. Other than an RBI triple in the third inning, Looper's only blemish was a three-run homer by Geoff Blum in the sixth inning. Because of Thursday's off-day, Brewers manager Ken Macha said Looper will open the series against the Nationals on regular rest. The right-hander has never faced the Nationals.

Tidbits
Adam Dunn is hitting .349 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs after the All-Star break. ... Since joining the Nationals on June 30, Sean Burnett has a 3.13 ERA, while opponents are hitting .176 against him. ... Josh Willingham has a .408 on-base percentage this season.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• MASN 2

On radio
• WFED 1500, SBN 1390 (Español), ESPN 730 (Sp.)

Up next
• Saturday: Nationals (John Lannan, 8-9, 3.68) vs. Brewers (Mike Burns, 3-4, 5.36), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Nationals (Craig Stammen, 3-6, 5.13) vs. Brewers (Manny Parra, 8-9, 6.33), 1:35 p.m. ET
• Monday: Nationals (Collin Balester, 1-3, 6.75) vs. Brewers (Yovani Gallardo, 11-10, 3.56), 4:35 p.m. ET

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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