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Nationals pull pin on Strasburg's season

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WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg's season is over after the Washington Nationals decided to shut down the ace right-hander following a shaky start against the Miami Marlins.

Manager Davey Johnson made the announcement Saturday morning, citing the effect of the media attention surrounding the impending shutdown on the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft.

"I just told Stephen that his year is over. He's had a great year. I know what he's going through," Johnson said. "The media hype on this thing has been unbelievable. I feel it's as hard for him as it would be anybody to get mentally, totally committed in the ballgame. And he's reached his innings limit. So we can get past this and talk about other things for a change."

Johnson said Strasburg was "emotional" about the decision to end his season immediately.

"He's one heck of a pitcher and he's a heck of a competitor," Johnson said. "I know he's been struggling with it for weeks. I know he doesn't sleep good thinking about it."

The NL East-leading Nationals had said Wednesday's start at the New York Mets likely would be his final appearance of the season. John Lannan will make that start and remain in the starting rotation.

Johnson said the decision was his, and pitching coach Steve McCatty and general manager Mike Rizzo were in agreement.

"My job is to do what's best for the player. And this is what's best," Johnson said. "If you're not there 100 per cent mentally -- he's a gifted athlete, his velocity can still be there -- but I don't see the crispness. I don't see the ball jumping out of his hand. I'm a firm believer that this game's 90 to 95 per cent mental and he's only human. I don't know how anybody can be totally mentally concentrating on the job at hand with the media hype to this thing and I think we'd be risking more by sending him out."

Strasburg allowed five runs and matched his career low by lasting only three innings in the Nationals' 9-7, 10-inning loss to the Marlins on Friday night.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 10, 2012 B5

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