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Posted at 03:29 PM ET, 02/27/2012

Bryce Harper likely to start Nationals spring training opener


(Jonathan Newton - WASHINGTON POST)
Bryce Harper did not start any spring training games last season, but with Davey Johnson adamant about letting him compete to make the opening day roster – and, just maybe, wanting to showcase the 19-year-old phenom – Harper sounds likely to start the Nationals’ spring training opener Saturday against the Astros.

Former Nationals soft-tossing right-hander Livan Hernandez will start for Houston, a delicious subplot on its own. But with a right-hander on the mound (and right fielder Jayson Werth, since he’s a veteran, unlikely to make the trip), Johnson suggested Harper would start in right field.

“That works out nice,” Johnson said. “I’m looking at more left-handed presence. Right out of the chute, they’re going to throw a right-hander against us. I can get the left-handed presence in there. Though I’d prefer it’d be a harder thrower.”

While Harper is a longshot to make the Nationals’ roster, Johnson wants to Nationals management to keep an open mind about giving him the starting right field spot on opening day.

More from PostSports:

Ryan Zimmerman’s contract extension fulfills the hope he always had: playing his whole career in Washington.

— Tom Boswell details the effect Gio Gonzalez’s parents had on his life – and on his unique curveball.

— Dave Sheinin on what made Gonzalez an elite pitcher from his former teammates in Oakland.

Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper are still circling each other, but Gonzalez’s curveball stole the show at Day One of live batting practice.

The Nationals laid out their spring rotation.

Nationals veterans had some fun with Bryce Harper.

By  |  03:29 PM ET, 02/27/2012

 
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