Rudy Owens isn't so much concerned about pitching against Stephen Strasburg today, but hitting.
Owens will make his Double-A debut for the Curve, meaning he will bat for the first time in his pro career. Pitchers do not hit in Single-A and below.
"The only thing that comes to mind is 100 mph," Owens said of facing Strasburg. "When you see triple digits up there on the board, it's definitely intimidating, for me at least.
"When we all found out where we were going, the five starters, we were waiting to see who pitched against Strasburg," Owens added. "When it was me, my name was called on the list, everyone was like, 'Oh, good luck bunting against that guy.'"
Strasburg comes in with enormous hype in his pro debut, with ESPNews televising his half-innings. But Owens is no slouch as the lefty was MLB.com's minor league Starting Pitcher of the Year last season after going 11-2 with a 2.10 ERA between Single-A stops West Virginia and Lynchburg.
"I'm happy to pitch against him," Owens said. "It's going to be a big thing, and I'll do my best.
Gate, road information
Blair County Ballpark gates will open a half-hour early at 12:30 for today's 2 p.m. game. Season-ticket holders can enter the park at 12:20.
There will be a new traffic pattern around the ballpark that may slow down motorists after the game. Traffic will be limited to one lane for those turning left onto Frankstown Road from Park Avenue.
"Being against Strasburg and first [appearance] in Double-A, it's definitely going to make me nervous," he added. "But I'm going to try my hardest to keep things together and go out and throw my game."
The nation can tune in to watch Strasburg pitch, but Owens' half-innings will not be televised. He took the humorous approach to that.
"I thought the whole game was going to be on TV," Owens said. "I told my dad, 'Oh, hey, I'm going to be on TV maybe.' But he called and told me they're only going to show his innings, which makes sense. Nobody cares about me."
Curve shortstop Chase d'Arnaud faced Strasburg last year in the Arizona Fall League, hitting the second pitch he saw into a 6-4-3 double play.
"He's a quality pitcher," d'Arnaud said. "He has four pitches he can throw for a strike. He's everything they say he is, and he's a humble guy on top of that."
d'Arnaud doesn't expect his teammates to be intimidated by Strasburg or being on national TV.
"It doesn't change anything," d'Arnaud said. "He's just another pitcher. ... We're not really thinking about it being televised. We're going to be thinking about it as an opportunity to face a big league pitcher. We're going to take what we can from it and learn from it."
Like other players on the team, first baseman Matt Hague told his family and friends he would be playing on TV.
"They're excited," Hague said. "My family's back in Seattle, so it's hard for them to come see me a lot. So seeing me on TV is always pretty cool.
"All the attention kind of gets the adrenaline going a little bit more. But you can't get out of whack and out of your game plan and focus, otherwise it's just going to go straight to your head."
The speed pitch sign in right field at Blair County Ballpark is about 2 mph slow, according to Mirror research comparing the numbers to the Curve coaching staff's actual figures.
Strasburg is said to have a fastball that tops 100 mph. If you're watching the speed pitch sign and see a 98 or 99 pop up, it's actually 100 or 101.
Local kid in spotlight
Elliot Mast, an 11-year-old from Altoona, will be one of the media members in attendance today interviewing Strasburg. Mast will be reporting for "Kid Pitch," a national TV show that's carried on Fox Sports and Comcast affiliates, as well as MSG Plus.
The Mirror reported last week, based on interviews with several local sports historians, that no sporting event in Altoona had ever been broadcast live nationwide.
Former Altoona Area High School girls basketball coach Art Taneyhill said he did not believe the 1995 Women's Basketball Coaches Association High School All-America Game at the AAHS Fieldhouse was broadcast live. However, school spokesman Tom Bradley said it was shown live on ESPN2.
Several people have contacted the Mirror saying some boxing matches in Altoona were broadcast live on ESPN in the late 1990s. That is not correct, according to John Robertson of the Altoona Boxing Club.
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.