VIERA, Fla. - The big story at Nationals camp on Monday was the arrival of Bryce Harper, the 18-year-old phenom who will spend at least a week or two in major league spring training as part of his introduction to professional baseball. Still sporting a mohawk that he fiddled with on a couple occasions, making sure it still spiked out the back of his cap, Harper hit four homers during batting practice before signing autographs for a horde of eager fans.
You can read more about Harper’s day here.
But there were other things going on at Nationals camp on Monday, and we won’t deprive you of those storylines. So here are a few observations from the team’s workout:
* Cole Kimball is starting to attract some attention this spring, and it was easy to see why on Monday. The 25-year-old right-hander was throwing gas. In his second full year in the minors as a reliever, Kimball shot up to Double-A Harrisburg, and if he doesn’t make the team out of spring training, he’ll be on the short list of relievers to call up. He’s got a long, powerful stride into his delivery, and he employs his 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame well. He’s one to watch. Said pitching coach Steve McCatty: “You’ve got to try to throw hard if you want to throw hard.” As I read it again, that’s a very Yogi Berra-esque line from McCatty.
* Chien-Ming Wang continued to make progress in his latest bullpen session, though pitching coach Steve McCatty had to work through a mechanical tweak with the pitcher, who is attempting to come back from shoulder surgery that’s kept him out for two years. McCatty wanted Wang to keep more of his weight over his knees, instead of pulling his head back as he’s in his delivery. The Nationals are seeing some incremental improvement out of Wang, though, so they’ll keep nudging his rehab forward.
* Luis Atilano has arrived at Nationals camp, after being designated for assignment and outrighted to Triple-A Syracuse. Atilano, who had surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow at the end of last year, is ready to go and will pitch in big league camp.
Oh, and be sure to check out our Facebook page, where we’ve posted a couple Harper videos I shot today.