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