VIERA, Fla., March 20 (UPI) -- The Washington Nationals Saturday assigned prized rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg to begin the season in the minor leagues, team officials said.
Strasburg cleaned out his locker in the Nationals' spring training home at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Fla., and moved his gear to the team's minor league camp to prepare to open the 2010 season with Class AA Harrisburg, The Washington Post reported.
The newspaper said Strasburg, the top draft choice in last year's Major League Baseball draft, had become convinced he could make the Nationals out of spring training, so was genuinely disappointed by the move.
"Going into it, I felt like I had an opportunity, I had a chance," Strasburg told the Post. "That's how everybody feels when they come into big league camp. That's the reason why you're here, to try to make the team. There was always that thought in my head."
"It's not an easy decision," Nats General Manager Mike Rizzo said. "It's definitely not an easy decision. But we can't be short-sighted. We have to look what's best for the organization long term. That's dictated by what's best for Stephen Strasburg's development."