The scene at Nationals Park tonight won't rival Stephen Strasburg's debut on June 8, 2010. In all likelihood, nothing ever will. But the scene for Bryce Harper's first home game -- especially the crowd reaction to his first plate appearance -- should be something special nonetheless.
This is only the third time Harper has ever been to Washington. He came here after signing in Aug. 2010. He came here for the team's FanFest in March 2011. Now he's here for a bit longer, maybe for the long-term. "It's awesome," he said of his first impressions of D.C. "I don't think you could play in a better city. Everything happens here every single day. It's just going to be a great place to play."
There is, of course, an important game to be played tonight. The Nationals are mired in their first four-game losing streak of the season, and they're about to open a tough homestand against the Diamondbacks and Phillies. They can only hope their bats show up tonight against Arizona right-hander Trevor Cahill, and that Jordan Zimmermann is rewarded with some run support.
Plenty of updates to come, so please check Nats Insider throughout the evening...
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 185
Weather: Partly cloudy, 81 degrees, Wind 8 mph out to RF
SS Ian Desmond
3B Steve Lombardozzi
CF Rick Ankiel
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Jayson Werth
2B Danny Espinosa
LF Bryce Harper
C Wilson Ramos
RHP Jordan Zimmermann
CF Gerardo Parra
2B Aaron Hill
RF Justin Upton
LF Jason Kubel
C Miguel Montero
1B Paul Goldschmidt
3B Cody Ransom
SS John MacDonald
RHP Trevor Cahill
The Washington Nationals have signed former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters to a one-year deal with a player option for a second year, according to multiple reports.
Wieters spent the first eight years in the Majors with the Baltimore Orioles, being named to the AL All-Star team four times and winning two gold glove awards. Last season the switch-hitting catcher posted a .243 average with 17 homers and 66 RBI.
The Nationals have been in the market for catchers all offseason after Wilson Ramos left for Tampa Bay in free agency. The team traded for former Padres catcher Derek Norris, whose role is now in question. The Nationals still have Jose Lobaton on the roster as a strong defensive backup catcher who has a proven rapport with many of the pitchers in the Nationals rotation. Wieters had been linked to the Nationals all offseason because of the team's need a the position and because of the Nationals close relationship with Wieters' agent Scott Boras.
The only significant time that Wieters has missed due to injury in his career came in 2014-15 when he had Tommy John surgury. Prior to that surgury, however, Wieters had played in at least 130 games for four straight seasons and became a large part of the Orioles' identity.
The 30-year-old backstop will give the Nationals lineup more depth and power. Wieters had three consecutive 20-homer seasons from 2011-13 and since 2009 when his career began, he ranks fifth among catchers in all of baseball in home runs with 117.
Related: Nationals 2017 promotional schedule includes snow globes and fedoras
The Washington Nationals recently released the dates of their promotional days and giveaways this season, and there are some real gems in this schedule.
Among the standard bobblehead giveaways — Daniel Murphy on April 14, Trea Turner on May 12 and Tanner Roark on June 9 — and the highly recommended Pups in the Park days — April 29, May 13, June 10, June 25, September 7 and September 30 — pick the right game and you could get a snow globe, an American flag shirt or even a fedora. Seriously.
On May 24’s game against the Mariners, the first 25,000 fans will get a Max Scherzer snow globe, which has the potential to be the coolest knickknack in your house. Or on June 14 against the Braves — oddly not closer to the Fourth of July — Budweiser is behind the first 15,000 21-and-up fans getting an American flag tank top.
But truly the most unique item on this list is the Nationals-themed fedora, which will go to the first 25,000 fans at the Brewers’ July 26 matchup. How the Nats landed on this promotional item remains a mystery, but if you like hats beyond a traditional baseball cap, this is the game to attend.
Other cool or oddball promotions include the Nats Magic 8-Ball game April 3, the Chewbacca Koozie day May 27, Bryce Harper action figure day August 29 and Oktoberfest beer stein day Sept. 29.
Here's the complete list of the team's promotional days and giveaways.
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