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Strasburg showing a gentler side; Reds' Hamilton slowing things down

Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg normally has a stoic demeanor, but he has been outgoing and jovial this spring. Logan Bowles/USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Strasburg struck out five hitters in two innings for the Nationals on Saturday, but he did give up a two-run homer along the way. From Mark Zuckerman's story:

"I threw a lot of really good pitches," said Strasburg, smiling and joking through most of his session with reporters outside the home clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium. "Just one pitch, but that's to be expected. I'm just going to keep working on the selection, keep working on fine-tuning."

Strasburg displayed strong fastball and curveball command (particularly on the outside corner), striking out Jose Iglesias, Victor Martinez, J.D. Martinez and Nick Castellanos. He later got John Mayberry Jr. looking at a fastball before moments later leaving a first-pitch fastball up to [Bryan] Holaday and watching as the Tigers catcher launched it over the left field fence.

"It seems like every time, my first outing (of spring training) I give up a homer," he said with a smile. "I try not to go out there expecting it, but it's not something that's alarming at all."

What Zuckerman writes here about Strasburg's relaxed demeanor is in line with everything I had heard and seen while I was at Nationals camp last week. Players spoke of how comfortable Strasburg seems to be. Reporters talked about how much more eye contact he makes during conversations and interviews. Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post spoke of this on the podcast the other day.

Strasburg is just 27 years old now, but it feels like he has been around for decades because he has been the focus of attention since he was pitching for Tony Gwynn as an undergraduate at San Diego State. Since then, he has been drafted No. 1 overall, touted as the best pitching prospect ever and posted a record-setting major league debut. He also has blown out his elbow and worked his way back.

He is changing, as we all do. Early in his career, a colleague walked away from a conversation with Strasburg and said that the right-hander was standoffish. No, I argued; he's just shy. Some people enjoy the attention that comes with being center stage; Derek Jeter was that way, and Carlos Correa certainly is now. Some people don't, and maybe at the outset of his time in the big leagues, Strasburg existed closer to that end of the spectrum. Maybe he's changing now, as all people do.