Bryce Harper will start in the Nationals’ first spring training game Saturday against the Astros, Manager Davey Johnson said. It will be Harper’s first start against major league competition, a milestone that he never received in his brief time in last year’s major league camp.
Harper will also hit third and play right field tomorrow in an exhibition against Georgetown. Johnson’s playing time schedule for Harper again shows his desire for the Nationals to keep an open mind in regard to him making the roster. Harper should see ample playing time, particularly on road trips. And Johnson reminded today that, “I’m looking for a left-handed presence in the lineup.”
Harper, 19, has spent his entire life playing baseball against players older than him, and that will not change tomorrow, even when the Nationals face Georgetown in a spring training exhibition. The fact that Harper will be one of the youngest players on a field that includes a college team underscores his youth. Harper, though, has always played with older kids.
“Since a very young age, he’s been competing with guys who are older than him,” Johnson said. “So he’s not feeling like a duck out of water.”
This afternoon, Johnson bumped into Harper in the Nationals’ weight room. Harper asked him if he would play tomorrow, so he knew how hard he could lift. Johnson informed he’d be in the lineup, and Harper moved on to a different exercise.
“He was leaping up on a stool five-feet high,” Johnson said. “I got tired just looking up on him.”
The lineup for the Nationals against Georgetown will include four of their top dozen prospects other than Harper, with Steve Lombardozzi, Anthony Rendon, Tyler Moore and Matt Purke also starting. Here’s the whole thing.
1. Steve Lombardozzi, 2B
2. Xavier Paul, LF
3. Bryce Harper, RF
4. Tyler Moore, 1B
5. Brett Carroll, DH
6. Anthony Rendon, 3B
7. Corey Brown, CF
8. Andres Blanco, SS
9. Sandy Leon, C
-- Matt Purke, SP
From the minor-league side of camp, the Nationals will bring Zachary Walters, Jeff Kobernus, Justin Bloxom, Destin Hood and Michael Taylor.
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