VIERA, Fla. (AP) — Stephen Strasburg's sinker may still be a work in progress. His other pitches seem to be rounding into shape quite nicely.
After giving up back-to-back singles — both on sinkers — to start the game, the Washington ace struck out six over three innings Thursday night in a 4-all tie with the New York Mets. The game was called after 10 innings.
Strasburg, expected to be the Nationals' opening day starter, already has an overpowering fastball, a wicked curve and a changeup that just doesn't seem fair. A big goal this spring is getting a better feel for his sinker, but he admitted he's still struggling with it.
"I need to get over the idea of throwing it harder will make it better," he said. "I feel like I'm just kind of throwing through the sink and it's kind of flattening out. I want to throw it a little bit slower, let it move a little bit more and I'll get better results."
The 24-year-old right-hander is also working on calming himself down and not getting too pumped up in the first inning, which causes him to rush through his delivery. He struggled with that a little bit in his initial spring outing — he gave up a single and home run to the first two Mets batters — but made the adjustment much quicker Thursday night.
"Being so early, I don't feel like I've had enough mound time for it to just click, and not really think about it," Strasburg said. "I'm still trying to feel it out a little bit. The good thing is I felt good when I came out. That's the bottom line."
While Strasburg gave up a run on three hits while also walking two, the Mets got a look at one of their bright, young arms in the form of 22-year-old right-hander Rafael Montero.
Montero was the team's minor league pitcher of the year last season. He made his first spring start and threw two innings, giving up three hits — all doubles — and one run.
"He's got a good arm," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I like the fact that he really pounds the strike zone with his stuff. Great poise on the mound. Great demeanor. Pretty impressive."
Top catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud got two hits and scored twice for the Mets. Jordany Valdespin also had two hits, both off Strasburg.