If there were any doubts about Stephen Strasburg's command after nearly a year off the mound, he quickly dispelled them Sunday.
The Nationals right-hander allowed a second-inning solo homer but had an otherwise issue-free rehab start in the Class A Hagerstown Suns' 7-5 loss to the Greensboro Grasshoppers.
Pitching in a game for the first time in 11 1/2 months, Strasburg allowed one run and three hits over 1 2/3 innings. The 23-year-old struck out four of the eight batters he faced and threw 25 of 31 pitches for strikes. He did all that before a standing-room-only crowd of more than 6,000 at Municipal Stadium.
"When you got the adrenaline going, you really don't know how you're going to throw," said Strasburg, who was clocked as high as 97 mph. "I went out there and once they said, 'Play ball,' I got that feeling back where you want to play. I wasn't really nervous, I had pretty good expectations. I knew I wasn't going to throw 100 [mph] every time."
Strasburg, who is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, likely will make four or five additional Minor League starts before returning to the Nationals next month.
"Obviously, my goal is to pitch in the big leagues in September," said Strasburg, who received treatment for almost an hour following his outing. "If it doesn't, that's not my call. It's a lot longer process than many people think. Come Spring Training next year, I should be back to normal."
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft went 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 12 Major League starts last season.
In preparation for Sunday, Strasburg completed a side session Thursday, two days after pitching in a simulated game in Viera, Fla.
Wilson Eusebio (0-7), the Suns' fourth pitcher, gave up a go-ahead, two-run homer to Aaron Dudley in the seventh and final inning. Jacob Realmuto and Ryan Fisher also went yard for the Grasshoppers.
Grant Dayton (2-0) pitched two innings of scoreless relief for the victory.