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Posted at 12:54 PM ET, 02/28/2011

Nationals spring training live blog, Bryce Harper Debut Edition

By Adam Kilgore

digital domain.jpg

Final: Adam Carr pitched a 1-2-3 inning and the Nats won, 9-3

Top 9, 3:53: Bryce Harper came to bat for the second time and struck out on four pitches against Ryota Igarashi. He looked at a strike, a ball, and a strike, then swung over an 86-mph sinking fastball. It's all uphill from here.

Before Harper came up, Michael Morse crushed his second two-run homer in as many at-bats, this one an oppo boppo to right. The Nats lead, 9-3.

End 8, 3:43: Todd Coffey took care of business, 1-2-3. Michael Morse, in a rare appearance at third, made a nice play on a sharp one-hopper right at him to end the inning. Last year, the Nationals started 0-11 and their pitching was a mess. Today's just one game, but it's been a polar opposite of that. Chad Gaudin was pretty sharp, while Broderick, Slaten and Coffery were excellent.

Well, well, well: Jim Riggleman said Bryce Harper would get one at-bat, but he's due up fourth and is out by the on-deck circle warming up. The pitcher is Ryota Igarashi, a right-hander. For Harper to have a chance, Brian Bixler, Jason Frazier or Morse would have to reach base.

Mid 8, 3:37: Alberto Gonzalez singled and stole second, but the Nats had an otherwise quiet inning against former National Mike O'Conner. Corey Brown popped to center and is now 0 for 2. Todd Coffey is in the game. He sprinted to the infield, but the bullpens here and down the line, so unfortunately, it was a short sprint.

Top 7, 3:30: Official, 3,461 people saw Bryce Harper strike out on three pitches.

End 7, 3:27: Great inning for left-handed reliever Doug Slaten. He induced a pop-up and struck out two against some Mets reserves.

Top 7, 3:18: Bryce Harper struck out on three pitches in his first major league spring training at-bat. He fouled off the first pitch Taylor Tankersley threw him, then swung and missed and two. The second was an offspeed pitch, seemingly a slider. Before he stepped into the box, Harper rubbed dirt from around home plate on his bare hands. He wore a thin strip of eye black under each eye.

Harper's at-bat came after Michael Morse drilled a two-run home run to left. The Nats lead 7-3.

Top 7, 3:14: Brian Bixler doubled off Tankersley with one out and Jason Frazier reached on a dropped fly ball. So, barring an odd double play, Harper will bat this inning. He is on deck now. Also, in 188 career at-bats against lefties, Tankersley has allowed a .233 average and seven homers.

End 6th, 3:06: Rule 5 pick Brian Broderick pitched his first inning for the Nationals. He allowed one hit, a double by Dusty Ryan, and no runs while striking out Valdespin. Harper is due up fifth in the seventh, and left-hander Taylor Tankersley is on.

Mid 6th, 2:57: Craig Stammen got through the fifth with no trouble, allowing just a single to Nick Evans and striking out Scott Hairston. Jason Isringhausen started the sixth by retiring Corey Brown and hitting Danny Espinosa with a pitch. Jerry Hairston ended the inning with a 4-6-3 double play. We're five hitters away from Bryce Harper's first at-bat. It's 4-3, Nats.

2:47: Almost lost in the excitement over Harper's first appearance in a big league game was the return of Jesus Flores. He popped to first base to end the inning in his first major league at-bat of any kind since September 2009. Now, he's catching, in for Wilson Ramos. Stammen remains in.

2:40: Bryce Harper has entered as a pinch-RUNNER for DH Matt Stairs after Stairs grounded an RBI single through the right side. Harper was born about a month after Stairs made his major league debut. Harper's introduction received a warm cheer from crowd here. The Nats lead 4-3.

2:33: Nice hustle out of Ian Desmond, who stretched a single into a double to lead off the fifth after Russ Adams just missed a diving catch. He was smoking out of the box.

2:30: Stammen cleaned up his mess to an extent. After the run scored, Stammen got a pop to left from Jordany Valdespin (name of the spring so far) and a grounder to first by Kirk Nieuwenheis.

2:25: Tough start to the spring for Craig Stammen. He walked the first batter he faced, Scott Hairston, on four pitches. Two pitches later, a wild pitch sent Hairston to second. Murphy lined out to right. Mike Nickeas singled to left, and Ruben Tejada ripped an RBI single to right. One out in the fourth, two on, now tied 3-3.

2:17 Not a great start for Nyjer Morgan. He's 0 for 3, and he just ended the fourth with a 4-6-3 double play. The Nats lead, 3-2. Craig Stammen replaces Gaudin.

2:12: Danny Espinosa reaches with a bunt single. The Nats are 2 for 3 on bunt singles already -- Espinosa and Bernadina reached, Morgan did not. Runners on he corners with one out, now, after Hairston's ground out. Morgan comes to bat.

2:10 Wilson Ramos led off the fourth with a double down the third base line against reliever D.J. Carrasco. He moved to third when Carrasco air-mailed a pickoff throw into center. Kevin Barker dribbled one to second, and Ramos bolted home, beating Murphy's throw with a nice slide into the plate. 3-2, Nats.

2:05: Gaudin is presumably done after three innings, and his last was his best. He faced four batters and only Nick Evans reached, on a throwing error by Jerry Hairston. He struck out Fernando Martinez looking to end the inning. Gaudin is certainly a strike thrower -- he needed 47 pitches, and 32 were strikes.

1:55: The rally was ended by a double play from Matt Stairs. Chad Gaudin stays in the game for a third inning. He's only thrown 32 pitches, 22 strikes.

1:53: Rally brewing for the Nats. Roger Bernadina dropped a bunt single to third, and Michael Morse followed with a hot grounder through the left side. Two on, one out (an Ian Desmond looking K.)

1:47: Gaudin out of the inning with a nifty 4-6-3 double play by Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond. First of many this year for those two.

1:45: Another hard-hitting inning for the Mets against Gaudin. After a ground-rule double by Daniel Murphy, a grounder to second and a single by Ruben Tejada, it's 2-2 in the bottom of the second.

1:38: Jerry Hairston with a sac fly to center. 2-1 Nats. Morgan tried a bunt, but it went foul. 0-1 on him. ... Morgan then bunted again, and third baseman Daniel Murphy made a great play. Got him by a nose after the bare-hand pick-up.

1:36: Nats have something going. Wilson Ramos singled the other way, and Luis Castillo couldn't handle Danny Espinosa's chopper, an E4 that sent Ramos to third. It is SPRING TRAINING and Castillo gets booed. Runners on the corners, one out in the second.

1:31: Up and down inning for Gaudin. He also struck out Jason Bay with a fastball, but then yielded a pair of hard-hit singles by Nick Evans and Fernando Martinez. He ended the inning by striking out Scott Hairston with yet another fastball. It's got some life. Gaudin is 5-11, but as pitching coach Steve McCatty has said, "he throws like he's 6-5." Gaudin threw 22 pitches, 16 strikes.

Scott Hairston's brother, Jerry, is playing third and batting ninth for the Nationals. Could be some Hairston-on-Hairston crime in the NL East this year.

1:22: After Chad Gaudin air-mailed a warm-up pitch to the backstop, he struck out Luis Castillo swinging at a 90-mph fastball. But Angel Pagan followed with a very wind-aided home run to left, an opposite-field solo shot on a 75-mph curve. 1-1.

1:18: Matt Stairs grounds to second. Inning over. Here comes Chad Gaudin. Under the radar: Bo Porter making his third base coaching debut.

1:16: The Nats lead, 1-0. Ian Desmond smashed a triple to the warning track in center, and Roger Bernadina followed with a line drive single to right. He then promptly stole second. Michael Morse grounded out. Two down.

1:13 Mike Pelfrey's first pitch to Nyjer Morgan was a fastball for a looking strike. On 0-2, Morgan popped foul to third base. One up, one down.

1:08: Manager's meet at home plate with the umps. Terry Collins, the new Mets manager, shakes hands with Jim Riggleman. We're about two minutes from first pitch.

1:00 Anthem.

12:54: Welcome back to still-awfully named Digital Domain Park, site of Harpocalypse 2011. Bryce Harper has already impressed during batting practice, mixing in opposite-field line drives with a few blasts to right and center, including one that smacked off a batter's eye some 20 feet above a 410 sign in dead-away center field. "Good BP," said his father, Ron, who watched from four rows behind the Nationals dugout.

Harper will receive one at-bat today, but he will not play the field, Manager Jim Riggleman said. Harper will receive his first defensive action tomorrow, likely for two or three innings in place of right fielder Jayson Werth, Riggleman said. The Nationals want to ease Harper into his first game. He has blended in well for a week -- Riggleman agreed that if you took the "Harper" off the back of his jersey, he wouldn't stand out a bit. But he's still 18, still in his first spring.

"Nothing but neutral or positive is going to come out of this," Riggleman said. "Just to kind of get the butterflies out on that first I think will be good for him."

"The first one at spring training at a major league game is something that's going to mean something to him. We'd like to see him go up there and get it out of the way, as much as anything. He's had to deal with so much attention."

I'll be providing updates all game in this post, with the warning that at some point I may have to leave the press box in order to interview the starter, Chad Gaudin. We'll see what happens. The newest update, which will come every half inning or so, will be on top. Get your F5 button ready.

By Adam Kilgore  | February 28, 2011; 12:54 PM ET
 
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Next: Bryce Harper's spring training debut ends with two strikeouts

Comments

I think Kilgore could save alot of time, and not develop carpal tunnel simply by doing this:

1:03 - Natinals take the field
1:04 thru 3:00 - Natinals play like AAAA team
3:01 - Final score, Natinals lose by 10.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | February 28, 2011 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure how many chances Gaudin will have to make a case for a spot in the rotation. Early home runs, wind-blown or not, will not be very helpful.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | February 28, 2011 1:35 PM | Report abuse

From earlier post: "106.7 The Fan will broadcast Nationals spring training match-ups..."

Posted by: FeelWood
==========================================
Really? I tuned in a couple of minutes ago and they were talking about a guy who got caught by a drug-sniffing dog with crack in his buttocks.

I guess they have nothing to talk about until they get word on whether Clinton Portis gets let go.

Posted by: gilbertbp | February 28, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Saw this in Boswell's chat today:

"The Orioles are really interesting. I think they'll make a b etter run at .500 than the Nats this year."


Hahahahaha, Sorry Natinal fans, look like all 15 of you will be waiting until 2020 before the Natinals even sniff winning 70 games.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | February 28, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Is there audio for this on MLB at Bat for Android? My friend is following the game but not getting any audio on this game or other spring training games today.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | February 28, 2011 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I'm watching the 'free preview' mlb.tv Mets feed on the MLB At Bat for iPhone. I don't think there's an audio-only feed. I read there's no radio broadcast today.

Posted by: meg2400 | February 28, 2011 2:08 PM | Report abuse

So, Poopy McPoop I was wondering. Is McPoop your maiden name nd it just worked out that you married a man named McPoop? Why did your mamma name you Poopy? Or, is that a name you picked up in Jr High School when the gym teacher remarked on the track marks in your shorts?

Posted by: jimbrooks99 | February 28, 2011 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Morgan is already 0-3, including hitting into a double play.

I really want him to be successful this year, but I have a sinking feeling this year is going to look similar to last year for Nyjer.

Posted by: kevinx | February 28, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

So much for Eckstein saying the other day that Nyjer is at his best right now, not hitting grounders but line drives...oh well that is why we play games!

Posted by: markfd | February 28, 2011 2:22 PM | Report abuse

"From earlier post: "106.7 The Fan will broadcast Nationals spring training match-ups..."

Posted by: FeelWood
==========================================
Really? I tuned in a couple of minutes ago and they were talking about a guy who got caught by a drug-sniffing dog with crack in his buttocks."

In fairness, it didn't say ALL spring training matchups. Apparently there is no radio broadcast of today's game, either Mets or Nats.

Posted by: FeelWood | February 28, 2011 2:29 PM | Report abuse

How bout an updated pic?

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | February 28, 2011 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Lefty versus Lefty...NICE way to welcome BHarp to the bigs! ;)

Posted by: markfd | February 28, 2011 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I appreciate the detail in the live blogging for this game, Adam. Thanks much.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | February 28, 2011 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Glad he struck out. Needs to work hard for it, but will someday be a solid major leaguer. Starting out too quickly would only make his head grow .....

Posted by: justaguy43 | February 28, 2011 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Good work Adam, keep it up

Posted by: bmmanion | February 28, 2011 3:24 PM | Report abuse

>>Harper's at-bat came after Michael Morse drilled a two-run home run to left. The Nats lead 7-3.

When did Kilgore become Riggleman, where everything Morse does is an afterthought. Oh BTW some guy hit a 2-rum bomb.
Thanks for that.
Speaking of Mr. Riggleman, what will he do since there are only DHs so he can't hone his doubleswitch moves? Must be killing him.

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | February 28, 2011 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Struck out on 3 pitches? Trade the bum.

Posted by: shanks1 | February 28, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse

It's ridiculous just how excited I am about this first spring training game. I'm glued. I know I know--it means nothing. And yet. Is anyone else excited by the starts from Espinosa, Desmond, Morse, Bernadina (even though he did get thrown out at third)and Ramos?

Who knows about Morgan, but I could certainly forsee an outfield of Bernadina, Werth (center), and Morse.

Ok. I'm already thinking way too hard and way too far ahead. But, man this is fun!

Posted by: baseballyay | February 28, 2011 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I have to wonder - isn't a place for fans of the Baltimore AngelO's to comment on-line? Don't those losers have a place for their own idiots to post their infantile screeds?

Posted by: shanks1 | February 28, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Oppo boppo? Please, Adam, don't go so cute on us.

Posted by: COL_DFox | February 28, 2011 3:55 PM | Report abuse

And the second it appears he hit off of an RHP...If he keeps hitting the ball even remotely this well over the course of the Spring, there is really no way Riggleman can justify going with a platoon in Left.

Posted by: Cavalier83 | February 28, 2011 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Harper striking out twice on mosty junk pitches should give pause to those who feel the kid is ready now. Now Harper will get some hits with his ABs this spring but there is no doubt that seasoning in the minors where there will be less pressure will be good for him and the NATS. And as AK pointed out it looks as if the NATS are to be one game ahead of last Springs record!!!

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | February 28, 2011 3:58 PM | Report abuse

The one criticism aside, thanks for doing the half-inning by half-inning recap. It's been great having that today when there's no radio coverage.

Posted by: COL_DFox | February 28, 2011 3:58 PM | Report abuse

I was going to make some snarky comments about Harper's strikeouts and Morse's homers but, frankly, I'm just having too much fun soaking up the Florida sun via the interwebs. It's all good.

Posted by: baltova1 | February 28, 2011 3:58 PM | Report abuse

First ST game and what have we learned:
1. Morgan can't hit.
2. Morse can.
3. Harper needs seasoning.
4. Flores needs seasoning.
5. Bernadina hits well.
6. Pitching is pretty solid, 10 K, 1 W and a very respectable 3.00 ERA.
7. Desmond fields well, too.

Let's see what tomorrow brings. NICE START, TEAM! LET'S GO, NATS!


Posted by: luv2bikva | February 28, 2011 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Way to go Mike Morse!

Posted by: cr8oncsu | February 28, 2011 4:04 PM | Report abuse

>>And the second it appears he hit off of an RHP...If he keeps hitting the ball even remotely this well over the course of the Spring, there is really no way Riggleman can justify going with a platoon in Left.
Posted by: Cavalier83

Puleeze. You must learn from history my friends. There was a regular season game last year where Morse belted 2 HRs and Riggleman doubleswitched him out early. A regular season game!!!!

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | February 28, 2011 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Get nyger out of dc

Posted by: bmmanion | February 28, 2011 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Oppo boppo? Please, Adam, don't go so cute on us.
____________________________________

Really. Can we please agree to retire "OB" before we get to the regular season? Although I'm not holding my breath. Clint should have been retired halfway through his first season, and he's still around...

Posted by: NATurallyYours | February 28, 2011 4:20 PM | Report abuse

"Oppo boppo? Please, Adam, don't go so cute on us.
Posted by: COL_DFox"

If you haven't been following @COL_DFox Adam is not being cute he is laying down some smarmsnark smack : message:

Bryce Harper dreamed and really wishes he had done what Mikey Mo accomplished with apparent ease in his first spring appearance. Now who's the #1 outfield prospect who hits oppo boppo's? Is it Mikey Mo? Or Bryce Harper

? Right now looks like Mikey Mo can play third base as well as the outfield corners as well ... nice ...

Posted by: periculum | February 28, 2011 4:21 PM | Report abuse

We have also apparently learned that Brian Bixler is a scrappy guy who thinks he should play in front of Hairston, Cora and Gonzalez. Maybe he's right?

Morse AAAA? Hah!!! Eat crow dudes.

Posted by: periculum | February 28, 2011 4:25 PM | Report abuse


I think Kilgore could save alot of time, and not develop carpal tunnel simply by doing this:

1:03 - Natinals take the field
1:04 thru 3:00 - Natinals play like AAAA team
3:01 - Final score, Natinals lose by 10.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | February 28, 2011 1:35 PM

How did that work out again????

Posted by: charley42 | February 28, 2011 4:39 PM | Report abuse

You know your team is bad when after the 1st Spring Training game Natinals fans want to point out other posters who were wrong in their projections for the 1st game of spring.

hahahahhaha, good luck with that Chuck.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | February 28, 2011 6:03 PM | Report abuse

@P00P:
If you were so ready to crow about a Nationals loss today, why is it out-of-bounds for us Nats fans to preen over a win?

Your "heads-I-win-tails-you-lose" shtick is extremely tiresome. If your real-life demeanor is anything like you evince in these parts, you should be in store for a difficult afterlife.

Posted by: bertbkatz | February 28, 2011 9:52 PM | Report abuse

you should be in store for a difficult afterlife.

Posted by: bertbkatz | February 28, 2011 9:52 PM
-----

Hahahahaha, you believe in an afterlife.

When you see Santa, the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and when that Jesus guy comes back, say 'hi' to all of them for me.

Posted by: P00PY_MCP00P | March 1, 2011 1:18 PM | Report abuse

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