Nationals Journal

Bryce Harper records his first spring training hit

Bryce Harper gets his first hit as the Nationals defeat the Mets, 5 - 3, at Space Coast Stadium. "It was a good pitch to drive," he said.
Bryce Harper gets his first hit as the Nationals defeat the Mets, 5 - 3, at Space Coast Stadium. "It was a good pitch to drive," he said. (John Mcdonnell)
Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Harper gets his first hit of spring training

Monday night, Bryce Harper went home, talked to his father about the two strikeouts on seven pitches that marked his first appearance on a major league field and laughed. Hours after they happened, Harper stopped thinking about the strikeouts.

"That was yesterday," he said. "Today is today."

Harper entered Tuesday's game in the bottom of the fifth, as a pinch-hitter for Jayson Werth. Harper fell behind 0-1 against Mets right-handed reliever Pedro Beato. Then Beato threw him an outside fastball.

"It was a good pitch to drive," Harper said. Harper took an easy swing and swatted the ball on a line to left field.

Brown injures ankle

Outfielder Corey Brown sprained his left ankle Tuesday afternoon after sliding into a Mets catcher while trying to score on a groundball to first by Bryce Harper. Brown, one of the players the Nationals received in the trade that sent Josh Willingham to the Oakland A's, left the game after being tended to by athletic trainer Lee Kuntz.

The Nationals believe Brown's swollen ankle suffered a mild sprain. He will miss a few days, but both the team and Brown expect him back roughly by the end of the week.

Strasburg update

Since the first day Stephen Strasburg showed up at Nationals spring training and played light catch, there has been a dearth of updates regarding his condition. This owes to the nature of the Tommy John surgery recovery process.

At some point, if all goes to plan, he'll climb a mound for the first time. Much later this season, he'll pitch in a minor league game. For the most part, no news is good news.

Strasburg has made some small progress during his time at Nationals spring training. He was throwing from 45 feet on his first day. He has backed up to roughly 75 feet, he said Tuesday morning, and his rebuilt right elbow is perfectly fine.

"It feels great," Strasburg said. "You just can't push it, because then it won't feel great."

Lineup moves

First baseman Adam LaRoche was the designated hitter because of tenderness in his left shoulder. The Nationals believe the issue is not serious, and they held LaRoche off the field despite his desire to play, Manager Jim Riggleman said. . . .

Tuesday's lineup, the first this spring in which Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth appeared, offered some insight into how Riggleman will set his regular-season lineup. Werth batted third and Zimmerman hit cleanup, which is how Riggleman is "leaning" to align his two best hitters once the season starts, he said.

- Adam Kilgore

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