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"Come spring training next year, that's where I think I should be back to normal," he said.
Strasburg struck out half of the eight batters he faced Sunday and didn't throw a ball until his ninth pitch. The Nationals had decided ahead of time that he would throw a maximum of two innings or 35 pitches. He stuck mostly to his fastball, and the fact that the Grasshoppers knew it was coming accounted for their modest success: three hits, including Jacob Realmuto's opposite-field home run in the second inning.
"I knew they were all looking for fastballs," Strasburg said. "He put a good swing on it, can't really worry about that too much. I'm not even going to stress about it."
The game came 28 years to the day that Baltimore Orioles Hall of Famer Jim Palmer made the first of two rehab starts at Hagerstown, an event commemorated by a plaque at Hagerstown Municipal Stadium. Palmer pitched five innings and got the win on Aug. 7, 1983.
Strasburg's appearance was likewise a marquee event. Fans packed the stands at the old ballpark, and the Nationals issued a 500-word set of media guidelines that was almost Olympian in detail.
The star attraction arrived about three hours before the game. He emerged from a car and walked directly into the small clubhouse without acknowledging the two dozen fans who had formed an orderly line hoping for an autograph or at least a wave, par for the course for a player who hasn't embraced the trappings of celebrity.
"I'm aware of it. Not to be rude or anything, but it's really not that important to me," Strasburg said. "My goal as an athlete is to go out there and win. It's great that people come out and support me and stuff. I appreciate the fans; they make it a lot of fun for me and the other guys out there, but my job is to go out there and beat the other team."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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