Stephen Strasburg held the Astros scoreless into the third, only to give up two runs in 2 2/3 innings in his spring debut.
Strasburg struck out three and walked none. He allowed a solo homer to Chris Snyder and a double to Jordan Schafer in the third. Schafer came around to score off Tom Gorzelanny after Strasburg departed.
In all, Strasburg threw 26 of his 44 pitches for strikes.
“The biggest thing I noticed was that it was very easy for me to go out there,” he said. “My arm felt a lot stronger. It didn’t feel like it was getting tired as fast (as last year). I mean, it was pretty much a breeze. I was a little erratic at times, but I know that’s going to come with repetitions and just fine-tuning the mechanics.”
It was rather odd to see Strasburg set up to throw three innings in his first outing of the spring. Many veteran starters go just two in their debuts, and unlike all of them, Strasburg, who missed most of last year following Tommy John surgery, is dealing with a 160-inning limit for the regular season this year. It hardly makes much sense for the Nationals to put him ahead of the curve now.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.