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Former West Hills High School and San Diego State University star Stephen Strasburg will start Thursday, facing the team he idolized growing up. While Strasburg pitched in Petco Park once while at SDSU, this will be his first time doing so as a professional playing for the Washington Nationals as they face the Padres Thursday evening.

At West Hills in Santee, Strasburg didn’t pitch particularly well until his senior year, when he received some attention from professional scouts. But he went undrafted, largely due to a combination of being overweight and in poor physical shape, and lacking the emotional maturity for minor league ball.

At SDSU, Strasburg began dubiously, not considered to be good college baseball material, but improved and got himself into shape. By the end of his freshman year, he had become the team’s closer, and earned an opportunity to be a starter the next season.

By the time his junior year rolled around, Strasburg had become one of the most exciting college baseball players in the nation. He was drafted in the 2009 draft by the Washington Nationals with the first overall selection.

Strasburg didn’t spend much time in the minors, and in less than a year made his big league debut in June of 2010. Two and a half months later, he was hurt and ultimately underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament.

After a year of rehabilitation, Strasburg was back with the Nationals briefly in 2011, and then saw success in 2012, going 15-6 in a season that saw him ultimately shut down due to team officials wishing to take precaution after Stephen was out for a year. This year, Strasburg is 1-5, but has lacked run support, sporting an earned run average of 3.10.

Some San Diego fans might be torn, wishing for the Padres to win but also wanting to see their hometown boy do well. Manager Buddy Black isn’t confused as to where his allegiances lie.

“I have a soft spot for former Aztecs, but tonight will not be one of those nights,” Black said before the game.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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