WASHINGTON -- Right-hander Erick Fedde was arguably the happiest person at Nationals Park early Tuesday afternoon. Signing his first professional contract with the Nationals is the main reason he is cheerful.
Fedde was a busy young man on this day. Besides signing the contract, the right-hander went through his share of interviews, photo shoots and he even tried on his uniform. He will wear No. 14. He even had a brief conversation with right-hander Stephen Strasburg.
Fedde is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and Strasburg, who went through the same procedure, told Fedde to trust the system, don't rush to get back on the field and let things work themselves out.
"It was a wonderful experience. They have treated me so well," Fedde said. "They have shown me around. I had to do a little photo shoot, the jersey. It's every kid's dream. It's just awesome that it's coming true."
Before the surgery, which was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the 6-foot-4, 180-pound Fedde had a great final season for UNLV, going 8-2 with a 1.76 ERA in 11 starts. He also had 82 strikeouts in 76 2/3 innings. Scouts compared Fedde to former White Sox pitcher Jack McDowell.
Despite his injury, Fedde was still taken as the 18th overall pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. Starting Wednesday, Fedde will travel to Florida to start rehabbing his elbow. He is not expected to play in a game until sometime next year.
"I'm really excited. I've been sitting around too long, ready to get going, back to baseball," Fedde said.
Fedde recently had a brace taken off his elbow and was able to work on his flexor tendon.
"The starting process is a little slower," Fedde said. "I'm going to Florida tomorrow. We'll start everything there -- just getting my whole body back in shape and slowly working the elbow back. ... I guess if you're looking at it from a positive perspective, I've got the year to rehab and come back and I should be healthy and ready to go and not have to worry about it. Instead of it being a nagging problem, I can be done with it."
Fedde is a graduate of Las Vegas High School, where he played alongside Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper. Fedde is pleased to be reunited with Harper. The two have been friends since they were kids playing T-ball in Las Vegas, and Fedde admits that Harper was a cut above everybody else who played.
"He was always a monster, I guess you could say, when we were little," Fedde said. "He didn't look like a freshman. He deserves everything he's got and works really hard. I'm just glad things are working out for him.
"We grew up right in the same area. We played basketball together, football, went to the same high school, same middle school -- so a lot of time together. We haven't talked too much until recently. He texted me on the day of the Draft and told me congrats, that he was looking forward to playing with me. I've still got a lot of work to do to get up to where he's at. I'm just excited to push myself."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.