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Johnson: Strasburg is ready to go

Saturday - 2/25/2012, 9:20am  ET

AP: 33cda311-3e7e-44e4-a756-5230263ea288
Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson, left, watches pitcher Stephen Strasburg throw during the team's first official workout for pitchers and catchers at spring training baseball, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012, in Viera, Fla. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Craig Heist,

VIERA, Fla. As Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg gets ready to embark on his first full season after Tommy John surgery, manager Davey Johnson is keeping a watchful eye on him to make sure he is not overthrowing but he has no doubt that Strasburg is ready to go.

"He's built up pretty good right now," Johnson said. "He's going to go and have a normal; he's one of the boys, just like Zimm (Jordan Zimmermann) is one of the boys, just like all of them, he's one of the boys."

Strasburg came back on Sept. 6 last season and went 1-1 in five starts with an ERA of 1.50. He struck out 24 while walking just two in 24 innings.

His importance to this rotation cannot be understated when it comes to the success of this club but Johnson reaffirmed what GM Mike Rizzo has said from the very beginning about Strasburg's work lead this season.

"Regardless of where we stand in September, he's on a 150-160 innings limit," he said. "You always do what's best for the player because what's best for the player health wise is also what's best for the organization."

The innings limit is the same precautionary measure Zimmermann had to adhere to last season, but Johnson wants to make sure those innings this year for Strasburg are quality innings, pitched with a purpose behind them.

"One of my things that caused a problem was the hype that was created around him. Number one pick, his phenomenal last season in college and his stuff, to me, he started overthrowing a little bit. I think that was part of it."

"He struck people out when I had him in the Olympics but he located, with good stuff. It wasn't 98-100 coming up top; it was mid 90's with great movement and great location."

While everyone was caught up in Strasburg's debut against the Pittsburgh back on June 8, 2010 when he lived up to all the hype by striking out 14 Pirates, Johnson had concerns watching that game on TV.

"When I saw him striking out 14 early when he was up here; to me, he was overthrowing," he said. "I mean, everyone was eating it up but that worried me. I can't say that (caused the injury) but to me, that was pushing the envelope." D-day for Zimmerman.

D-day for Zimmerman

While Ryan Zimmerman's self-imposed deadline of Saturday's workout to get a contract extension approaches, Johnson said for the best interest of the club, he would like to see a long-term deal get done now.

"I hope it's a great idea and I hope they come together on a deal and get it done," he said. "He's the franchise player, he's best player, the three-hole hitter and the leader of the infield. You would like to see him and he wants to stay here. I think everyone wants him to stay here."

"I think there are things that need to be worked on on both sides," Zimmerman said. "We need to do some stuff and they need to do some stuff so we'll see."

"I think if it happens, I'm thrilled. If not, I got two years left here still and I'm excited about this year. We've got a great team here and we have a chance to do something special, something that has never been done with this organization and I think all of us want to just get to work and get going."

Zimmerman still has two more years left on his current 5-year, $45 million contract which runs through 2013. The major sticking point to striking a long term deal according to reports is a no-trade clause.

"The point of me signing this deal is for me to be here, not to sign a deal that's team friendly to have it with another team. I mean, that's the whole point of the deal."

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