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06/11/10 10:00 AM ET

Donald, Strasburg make lasting impressions

Former Olympic teammates to square off as Nats visit Tribe

CLEVELAND -- First impressions are usually lasting impressions.

The nation's first impression of Jason Donald was seeing the Indians rookie shortstop hustle down the line to allegedly beat Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga to the bag (replays proved otherwise), thereby ending Galarraga's perfect-game bid on what would have been the 27th out.

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And the nation's first impression of Stephen Strasburg was seeing the Nationals right-hander mow down 14 Pirates batters in seven innings Tuesday night in Washington.

On Sunday at Progressive Field, Donald and Strasburg will go head-to-head, though they won't be making a first impression on each other. They were teammates on the U.S. Olympic team that took the bronze medal at the Beijing Games in 2008.

"The first time I saw him, I knew he was going to be something special," Donald said. "He just had electric stuff. Stuff that makes you say, 'Wow!' It separates him from everybody else."

To Donald, it wasn't just what Strasburg threw but how he threw it that left a lasting memory.

"The ease with which he does it," Donald said. "It looks effortless when he's throwing. I just remember he had really good poise for how young he was and to be on that type of stage. He pitched against the Netherlands and Cuba. Cuba started to get to him a little bit, but he didn't back down at all. He continued to compete and get after it."

When Strasburg takes the mound Sunday, Donald is expecting to see more of the same -- that same bulldog mentality and competitiveness.

"That's one of the best things about him," Donald said. "He believes in his stuff and the work he's put in that got him to where he is. He's an extremely hard worker."

The Indians certainly have their work cut out for them, Donald included. But because he's a rookie still trying to get comfortable at this level on a day-to-day basis, Donald didn't want to look too far ahead to the matchup that looms in Sunday's finale of the three-game series between the Tribe and Nats.

"I don't want to speak for everyone else," he said. "But I know, on my end, you can't look too far ahead, and you certainly can't look behind you in this game. We've got some tough arms we're going to face [before Strasburg]. We'll save that for another day. You get your plan on that day and worry about the here and now."

Every day, after all, is a chance to leave another lasting impression.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.