Purke’s spring debut a strong one

VIERA, Fla. - Sure, it was against collegiate opposition, but Matt Purke looked pretty darn good in his spring debut.

Facing Georgetown University in the Nationals’ first game of the spring, Purke - the Nats’ third-round pick in June’s draft - went three strong innings, allowing no runs and just one hit.

Purke struck out three (including two looking) and did not walk a batter. He threw 32 pitches, 23 for strikes, and was pulled in favor of righty Rafael Martin to start the fourth inning.

With a smattering of fans in the stands at Space Coast Stadium, Purke also made a nice defensive play in the second inning, getting Georgetown right fielder Christian Venditti on a comebacker to the mound. Purke raced off the mound, and after bare-handing the ball, the lefty spun to his right and gunned down Venditti.

There’s no radar gun here at Space Coast Stadium, so I don’t have reports on the speed at which Purke was throwing, but his fastball looked like it had some heat, and his curve had a sharp bite.

Manager Davey Johnson and general manager Mike Rizzo have to come away from today impressed with the TCU product.

Meanwhile, Bryce Harper - who walked on four pitches in his first at-bat of the spring - tried to bunt for a hit in his second plate appearance today.

Harper dragged a bunt down the first-base line, but was thrown out on a nice play by Georgetown right-hander Jack Vander Linden.

I like Harper’s willingness to do whatever it takes to get on base, but, man, I feel cheated when the uber-prospect doesn’t at least take a hack.

Dan Kolko was named MASNsports.com’s Nationals beat writer after spending the last four years covering the Baltimore Ravens for MASN and also serving as the Web site’s deputy managing editor. A University of Delaware graduate originally from Silver Spring, Md., Dan grew up a die-hard baseball fan and is thrilled for the opportunity to cover the Nationals. Before joining MASN, Dan worked in production at Comcast SportsNet in Bethesda, Md., and also interned at the nationally syndicated “George Michael Sports Machine” in Washington, D.C.

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