Nolan Ryan says Josh Hamilton picked the wrong time to stop dipping

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Nolan Ryan spoke with ESPN Dallas about Josh Hamilton’s late season struggles.  Ryan beat back the notion that Josh Hamilton somehow quit on the team — which should go without saying, but whatever — and noted that to the extent he had issues late, it was because he was simply in an unfamiliar situation and didn’t quite know how to respond.

That seems reasonable. This, less so:

“His timing on quitting smokeless tobacco couldn’t have been worse. You would’ve liked to have thought that if he was going to do that that he would’ve done it in the offseason or waited until this offseason to do it. So the drastic effect that it had on him and the year that he was having up to that point in time that he did quit, you’d have liked that he would’ve taken a different approach to that. So those issues caused unrest, and it’s unfortunate that it happened and the timing was such as it was.”

He may be right that quitting affected Hamilton adversely, but given that Major League Baseball is trying to get players to stop using smokeless tobacco right now, banning it in the minors and fining guys who use it conspicuously in the bigs, someone at the league office probably won’t care too much for this sentiment.

Seems to me that there’s never a bad time to quit a bad habit. If the baseball suffers, it suffers. Life and health is more important.

Stephen Strasburg to make 2020 debut Sunday

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WASHINGTON — World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to make his season debut for the Washington Nationals on Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles after being sidelined by a nerve problem in his pitching hand.

Strasburg missed what would have been his first two appearances of 2020 after making all 33 starts last year and then becoming the first pitcher to finish a postseason with a 5-0 record.

“The tingling in his thumb is gone, and that’s a good sign. We watched him and he’s throwing some really good bullpens. That was the big thing for me: Nothing in his mechanics has changed. Everything’s good,” manager Dave Martinez said Friday before Washington’s series opener against visiting Baltimore.

“So based on a conversation with him, he feels good,” Martinez added. “He wants to pitch. He’s ready to pitch on Sunday.”

For how long is another question.

“We’re going to watch him. If he gives us 75-80 pitches, that’d be awesome,” Martinez said. “But we’ll keep an eye on him.”

The 32-year-old Strasburg led the NL with 209 innings and 18 wins in 2019.

The status of another one of Martinez’s aces, three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, was less clear when the manager spoke to reporters. Scherzer left his start in Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to the New York Mets after just one inning because of a right hamstring issue.

Scherzer said that night he didn’t think it was a big deal. He was going to test the leg by throwing on flat ground Friday afternoon.

“I’ll touch base with him after and see how he feels,” Martinez said. “He’s going to be day-to-day.”

If Scherzer is fine, his next turn in the rotation would be Tuesday at the Mets.

The right-hander first felt something wrong with the hamstring before his previous start, six days earlier against Toronto. But Scherzer pitched anyway in that one and ended up throwing an MLB season-high 112 pitches across 7 1/3 scoreless innings.

The leg acted up again when Scherzer was doing his usual sprinting a day before Wednesday’s game.