Stephen Strasburg to make second opening day start for Nationals
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Viera, Fla. • Stephen Strasburg will make his second opening day start for the Washington Nationals when the National League East champions open the season at home against the Miami Marlins on April 1.

Strasburg went 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA last season before he was shut down after 159 1-3 innings. The Nationals did not want to tax his arm in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. The decision to keep Strasburg on an innings count with Washington headed to the playoffs was the subject of debate last season.

The Nationals lost to St. Louis in a deciding fifth game of the NL division series last season. There is no innings restriction planned for Strasburg this season.

Brewers, Gomez agree to $28M deal

Outfielder Carlos Gomez and the Milwaukee Brewers have agreed to a $28.3 million, four-year contract.

The 27-year-old outfielder would have been eligible for free agency after this season. He had agreed to a $4.3 million, one-year deal in January, and the new contract includes salaries of $7 million in 2014, $8 million in 2015 and $9 million in 2016.

Gomez hit .260 with 19 homers and 37 stolen bases in 137 games in 2012. He was one of only five players in the major leagues with at least 15 homers and 30 stolen bases, joining teammate Ryan Braun, Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, B.J. Upton of the Tampa Bay Rays and Jimmy Rollins of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Spring training crowds down

Several factors are to blame for lower spring training attendance in Florida and Arizona this season: pricey tickets, an early start, cold weather and lineups depleted by injured stars and players dispatched to the World Baseball Classic.

The dip is nearly 14 percent lower than it was on this date last year. Games started about a week earlier this season because players wanted to get in shape for the World Baseball Classic.

Big league exhibitions began on Feb. 22 and averaged 5,789 fans through March 12. They started on March 2 last year and averaged 6,703 by that same date, with several teams on their way to setting attendance records.

Major League Baseball drew 30,895 per game during the regular season last year, its best mark since 2008 —

World Baseball Classic

O U.S. vs. Dominican Republic

Second round

Thursday, 5 p.m.

TV • MLB Network