Well, Davey Johnson said it was probably time to move Bryce Harper up in the lineup, and he wasn't kidding. Check out tonight's batting order ... yep, the kid is hitting third for the Nationals. In the fifth game of his career. At age 19. On a first-place club.
Honestly, it makes perfect sense. With Ryan Zimmerman out, Johnson doesn't have any real viable options to bat third. He's been using everyone from Danny Espinosa to Rick Ankiel to Chad Tracy. And not wanting to screw around with his 4-5 combo of Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth, it only makes sense to bump Harper all the way up to the 3-hole.
As for tonight's game in general, Ross Detwiler looks to bounce back from the first semi-ragged start of his season. He and the Nationals face a stiff challenge in Ian Kennedy, a 21-game winner last year and already 3-0 this year.
Plenty of updates to come, so please check Nats Insider's live game thread...
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Partly cloudy, 80 degrees, Wind 5 mph RF to LF
SS Ian Desmond
3B Steve Lombardozzi
LF Bryce Harper
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Jayson Werth
2B Danny Espinosa
CF Rick Ankiel
C Wilson Ramos
LHP Ross Detwiler
SS Willie Bloomquist
2B Aaron Hill
RF Justin Upton
LF Jason Kubel
1B Paul Goldschmidt
C Miguel Montero
3B Ryan Roberts
CF A.J. Pollock
RHP Ian Kennedy
HP Tim Tschida (cc), 1B Chris Guccione, 2B Jeff Nelson, 3B Bill Welke
Bryce Harper struggled by his standards in 2016 and he says he know why it happened last year. While it was rumored last season that he was playing through injuries, Harper never really missed significant time, nor did he really say that his injuries were the reason for his disappointing numbers.
Speaking with the media today at spring training, Harper hinted at his injuries from last season as he said he was just trying to stay in the lineup every day.
Although Harper's statistics dropped off dramatically from his MVP season in 2015, his numbers weren't entirely awful last year. He still hit 24 homers, drove in 86 runs and he had an .814 OPS.
With a full offseason to heal up, Harper will be a prime bounce-back candidate as he looks to help the Nationals win their third NL East title in the last four years.
Related: Sorry D.C. sports fans, Bryce Harper is a Dallas Cowboys fan
The Nationals aren't certain to have ace Max Scherzer ready to pitch for Opening Day. Scherzer, 32, was unable to compete in the World Baseball Classic this summer due to a stress fracture in his right ring finger.
When he spoke to the media today at the first bullpen session of spring training, he said that the fracture has healed but the symptoms continue.
Scherzer also said he'd just started throwing again this week. Manager Dusty Baker confimed that the Nationals don't know whether Scherzer will be ready to start the season.
Any time a team's star pitcher suffers an unusual hand injury, it's cause for concern for the club and fans.
Scherzer won the NL Cy Young Award last season and posted a 20-7 record as a starter. He also led the MLB with 284 strikeouts.
Scherzer is an especially vital part of the Nationals rotation considering the injury history of Stephen Strasburg, who landed on the DL twice last season, once with soreness in the elbow that needed Tommy John surgery in 2010.
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