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Posted at 10:03 AM ET, 02/22/2011

Nationals full-squad workouts begin with all eyes on Bryce Harper

By Adam Kilgore

The Nationals formally met this morning as a complete group for the first time, gathering in their clubhouse as 8:30. Manager Jim Riggleman and other Nationals officials oversaw introductions and explained the schedule. Then, briefly, they tried to set a tone for the season of changing expectations.

"A lot of people in the room got to say a few words," Riggleman said. "My message to the team was, 'There's a tremendous amount of talent in the room here. With that talent, expectations get raised. Let's meet and exceed those expectations, and let's play baseball.' It's a great group that Mike [Rizzo] and the Lerner family have put together. The job we have now is to make this group a team."

With the start of full workout, the Nationals are taking live batting practice today. The schedule doesn't detail what pitchers will face what hitters. In other words, we don;t know yet who Bryce Harper will stand in against. He'll hit in a group with Chris Marrero, Brian Bixler and Corey Brown.

Harper didn't wear his warrior-paint eye black for his workout yesterday, and I guess it would have been pretty ridiculous for him to wear it during a light practice. When it comes to games, Riggleman said he has no set policy for how players wear eye black, but the other men in the Nationals' clubhouse may determine how Harper smears the stuff on his face.

"There's a lot of peer pressure," Riggleman said. "What looked like probably a different look that maybe he played with at times all of a sudden became nation-wide. You saw kids doing that. You turned the TV on to a college game or you saw a high school kid playing, and it's like they're emulating Bryce Harper. I think that that'll be something that the veteran players may peer-pressure him into an adjustment."

The Nationals will be careful with Harper after the workout. Yesterday, he was mobbed by autograph hunters, nearly pinned against a fence as people shoved paper, pens, bats and magazine covers into his face. The Nationals will meet again after practice, and they may need to adjust the manner in which Harper leaves the practice field in order for him not to get caught in another horde.

"I'm all about people signing autographs," Riggleman said. "But I don't think anybody would want to have to do that everyday after their workout for the length of time it would have taken him to sign all of those.

"We want him to sign autographs. But today in particular, we have a mandatory meeting. The mandatory meeting after the workout, we can't hold that up while somebody is signing autographs."

By Adam Kilgore  | February 22, 2011; 10:03 AM ET
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Next: Long toss: Is it too much?


I don't care if he dips his entire face in eye black if he rips the cover of the ball and produces on and off the field.

Posted by: cokedispatch | February 22, 2011 10:27 AM | Report abuse

These are grown men? You don't have other stuff to worry about Riggleman? Get over the stupid eye black.

Posted by: mjwies11 | February 22, 2011 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Really, he can wear a Blue Man Group mask with a Bozo the clown nose for all I care. If the kid wants to do something a little outside the norm, let him do it. Let's not take the style away from his considerable subtance just for the Hell of it.

Posted by: dfh21 | February 22, 2011 10:43 AM | Report abuse

First of all, Riggleman was answering a Press asked question. Second, he, according to his answer, isn't going to do anything about Harper's eye black he will let the "clubhouse" handle it. So he is not concerned about the eyeblack. Third baseball is a Kid's game and the grown men still playing it have a lot of kid in them.

Sec 203 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | February 22, 2011 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Regarding controlling the autograph mob: Announce beforehand that he'll be available for autographs for x amount of time. Then have the autograph seekers form a line, going from shortest to tallest. Nascent eight-year-old fans get priority over fat 40-something guys looking to pad their investment portfolios.

Posted by: gilbertbp | February 22, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Hoping Corey Brown blasts the ball as well.

Doveline - Interesting point from last post. But if you lump DaveyJ, Rizzo and Riggleman into one group, and ask who is the most widely respected guy among the three, it's got to be DaveyJ. Not necessarily an insult to Rizzo or Riggs, but that's just the way it is. But it is interesting that Boswell decided to frame it that clearly.

Posted by: Sunderland | February 22, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Doveline fails to realize that Boswell has had an irrational mancrush on Davey Johnson ever since he was Orioles manager and Boswell covered the team. All Doveline did with that comment was turn the bromance into a menage a trois. Boswell's days of telling insights into the game are long gone, if indeed they ever were.

Posted by: FeelWood | February 22, 2011 11:14 AM | Report abuse

AK - Thanks for the video. You can hear the digital cameras clicking away.

The pop coming off of his bat and the way he centers the ball on the middle of the barrel is amazing.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | February 22, 2011 12:12 PM | Report abuse

FeelWood: If you hate the Post and each and every one of its writers so much, why do you hang around this blog? Your shot at Boz, who is a great baseball writer, demonstrates either stunning ignorance or arrogance or both. Not that your extreme negativity is limited to WaPo... But really, it does grow tiresome and has gone over the boundary into troll conduct.

Posted by: NatsFly | February 22, 2011 1:16 PM | Report abuse

NatsFly, why say you that I hate the Post and its writers? Are you unfamiliar with the concept of a loveable loser?

Posted by: FeelWood | February 22, 2011 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Ha, I will say this for Boz... I highly appreciate his enthusiasm for baseball and that Nats in particular. The stories he writes reminds me of how I felt about baseball when I was a kid...

But, unfortunately, I have to agree, his insight and analysis is subpar, obfuscated by the very enthusiasm and love of sport/team that is his primary charm.

In the end, he is a writer, not an analyst... when Boz sticks to the people side of baseball, he is worth reading...

When he tries to analyze the game, he falls short...

Which is fine, we have a huge contingent of baseball writers these days that turn everything into a cold, steely statistical analysis... plenty of internet info can be pulled up telling us how many millions of dollars a 25 home run season is worth in 2011... so it is actually nice to have a writer focus in on the human aspect of the game that is too often taken for granted in this day and age.

Just my opinion...

Posted by: Ghost7 | February 22, 2011 1:58 PM | Report abuse

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