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Nationals not rushing Strasburg's spring debut

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VIERA, Fla. (AP)

Stephen Strasburg says he's ''ready to rock.'' Even so, the Washington Nationals aren't rushing his spring debut.

Strasburg isn't scheduled to pitch in the Nationals' first two exhibition games. The team hasn't announced when Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez or Doug Fister will make their first appearances this spring.

''It's just kind of the way it stacks up,'' Nationals manager Matt Williams said Wednesday. ''There's no meaning behind it one way or the other. It's how he feels and how we stack that rotation.''

''I've talked with (pitching coach Steve McCatty) a lot about it and it's just kind of the way it falls,'' he said.

Williams added things will likely change following the team's off-day on March 18. That's when the Nationals could start setting up their rotation for the regular season.

The Nationals will open exhibition play Friday in Port St. Lucie against the New York Mets with Taylor Jordan getting the start. Jordan Zimmermann is set to start in Washington's spring home opener against Atlanta on Saturday.

Strasburg is listed for a bullpen session Saturday.

Asked about his schedule, Strasburg replied: ''I'm not really sure right now. ... Talk to the guys who make the schedule.''

Strasburg should make his first appearance of the spring next week. Neither he nor the team seemed to be too concerned about when that will be.

''He is perfectly fine,'' Williams said. ''He feels great. He's ready to go on the day that he pitches.''

The 25-year-old right-hander, who went 8-9 with a 3.00 ERA last season, made clear that there are no health issues for him.

''I feel good,'' he said. ''Ready to rock.''

Strasburg threw a live batting practice session on Wednesday and looked strong. He is continuing to work on his slider this spring.

''It's good,'' he said. ''I feel different when I throw a good one and when I throw a bad one. I got some good results. The hitters said it looked good.''

NOTES: The Nationals posted their lineup for Friday's spring opener against the Mets and none of their three starting outfielders - Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth and Denard Span - will be making the trip. ... RHP Drew Storen threw his first live batting practice of the spring. ... RHP Clay Hensley hit INF Anthony Rendon on the hip with a breaking ball during his live BP session and apologized immediately. ''My bad. Sorry, dude,'' Hensley said. ... The Nationals announced they have signed all 17 of their pre-arbitration players for 2014, including INF Danny Espinosa, RHP Ryan Mattheus and 1B Tyler Moore.

Tagged: Nationals, Stephen Strasburg

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