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Willie Harris will be the Nationals' opening day right fielder, but then what?

In the wake of Elijah Dukes's surprising release, the Nationals remain in the process of divvying out playing time right field. They have one answer already: Willie Harris will start on opening day, Manager Jim Riggleman said.

The Nationals chose Harris because he is the only left-handed hitter of the three primary candidates. Because they will face Roy Halladay, the Philadelphia Phillies' overpowering right-hander, Riggleman wants to have Harris's bat in the lineup.

"Roy is a bear to deal with, no matter who the hitter is," Riggleman said. "We would probably, if Willie's comfortable in right field, try to use him there that day."

Harris's designation as the opening day right fielder does not mean he will take ownership of the position. The majority of playing time may still be split between Justin Maxwell and Mike Morse, Riggleman said.

Maxwell, Harris and Morse will receive the bulk of playing time in right field for the remainder of spring training. Morse has been sick for the past few days, but the Nationals plan on starting him tomorrow.

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 19, 2010; 4:21 PM ET
 
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Comments

Why is this being decided now?

Posted by: dclifer97 | March 19, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Well , here we go again a 100 losses team 2 years in a row , start the new season with a .250 weak hitter in the right field . Willie Harris belong sitting in the the bench , but since we got nobody else......, what a joke .

Posted by: pellot313 | March 19, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Because Jermaine Dye still wants too much money?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 19, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Scumbag Nats. Why even release Dukes and his bare minimum salary if we're just giving the job to WIllie Harris, a utilityman by anyone's standards?

Frickin' Kasten and Rizzo.

Give the job to Maxwell or Bernadina at the very least.

http://www.realgm.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=124&t=996062

Posted by: CJArlington | March 19, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Easy CJA - Harris is starting opening day (vs. Halliday) only because he's a left-handed hitter; I'd expect to see either Maxwell or Morse against Hamels the next day.

Posted by: BinM | March 19, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

If you want a left handed RF on opening day, start Roger Bernadina. Of the other two RF candidates, Morse can hit a little but is not much of a fielder. Maxwell fields well, but struggles at the plate. He's hitting a whopping .125 right now (4 for 32). I like Willie Harris as a utility man, but don't want him to be an opening day starter.

Posted by: gibson0 | March 19, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

I don't have a problem with Harris starting in rightfield on opening day. It's just one game, he's lefthanded and I think he can handle it ok.

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 20, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

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