TAMPA, Fla. -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is regarded as a master of political strategy and procedural tactics.
And on Thursday, the last day of the Republican Party's national convention, as the GOP's nominee Mitt Romney prepared to give his anticipated and nationally televised speech, the 70-year old McConnell talked politics for 20 minutes with The Huffington Post.
But McConnell also had sports on his mind. He weighed in on one of its hottest debates, and one with particular salience in the nation's capital: whether or not the Washington Nationals should shut down their ace pitcher Stephen Strasburg before the end of the year. (McConnell has even discussed Strasburg on the Senate floor with the Nevada Democrat and Majority Leader Harry Reid.)
Strasburg underwent "Tommy John surgery" on his throwing arm two years ago, and the Nats have said they plan to end his season after he hits a certain inning limit. This would mean that the 24-year-old star, who currently has a 15-6 record, would not be able to pitch if the team makes the playoffs, which looks all but certain at this point.
McConnell, however, said he agreed with Nats General Manager Mike Rizzo and Manager Davey Johnson, who intend to follow through with the controversial plan to prematurely end Strasburg's season.
"You know, I think Rizzo and Johnson have really studied this. They went through it last year with [pitcher] Jordan Zimmerman. They're following medical advice," McConnell said. "And as a now really enthusiastic Nats fan -- actually I was before they had this good year -- I think following the expert advice, the best advice you can get, is the right thing to do."
The Huffington Post asked whether McConnell thought maybe Strasburg's starts could be spaced farther apart, or whether he could sit out for a few weeks and then come back. But McConnell said that was a bad idea as well.
"Apparently the doctors don't like that. Apparently they don't think you can space out the innings limitation, where you say you only got 160 innings but you can only take it in different segments," McConnell said. "And so I think their view is they don't want the Washington Nationals to be a one-year phenomenon. This team which has only a couple of players over 30, they would like to be a perennial contender, and they care about this young guy and want him to realize his potential and don't believe that -- they believe that's substantially less likely if they push him all the way through the end of the season."
"It's been interesting parlor talk. I mean everybody in the country is talking about whether this is a wise thing to do or not," he said.
McConnell said he follows Nats games most nights, either on TV or on an ESPN app on his iPad.
"We usualy get in 8:30, 9:00 [p.m.], you can catch the end of the game and then watch Nats Extra afterwards," he said.