Nats Journal: Bryce Harper's spring training debut ends with two strikeouts

By Adam Kilgore
Monday, February 28, 2011; 6:11 PM

Bryce Harper saw seven pitches and struck out twice in his spring training debut, an inauspicious beginning for the 18-year-old first pick of the 2010 draft.

Harper entered the game as a pinch-runner for designated hitter Matt Stairs in the top of the fifth inning. He bumped fists with Stairs, 43, who made his major league debut on May 29, 1992, 140 days before Harper was born. As he stepped on first, the crowd of 3,461 at Digital Domain Park roared and clapped.

Harper's day went downhill from there. He faced Taylor Tankersley, a difficult matchup for any lefty, in his first at-bat, in the seventh inning. Harper rubbed dirt on his hands, which he had already covered in chalk. He fouled away the first pitch, swung and missed at the second and then missed the third, a slider.

Harper saw one more pitch in the ninth, against Ryota Igarashi, but struck out swinging at an 86-mph sinking fastball.

The Nationals won, 9-3, behind Michael Morse's two home runs and four RBI. We'll have much more to come.

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