PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Hello from Digital Domain Park (I think I got that right), where the Nationals are a little over an hour from starting their spring schedule against the New York Mets.
Manager Jim Riggleman met with reporters this morning, and almost all of the questions he took were about Bryce Harper, who will get his first at-bat sometime today. Harper will likely come in as a pinch hitter and be removed from the game after his at-bat, Riggleman said. He'll probably play in the field tomorrow against the Mets at Space Coast Stadium, spelling Jayson Werth in right field.
Today, Riggleman said, "I'd like to see him go up there and get it out of the way as much as anything, because he's got to deal with so much attention."
Harper is currently taking batting practice, and is putting on an early show. I've seen him hit three homers so far. He put a ball halfway up the berm in right field that bounced up a hill and onto a patio. On his next swing, he hit a ball off the wall in center field, just to the left of the 410-foot batter's eye. And a second ago, he just spiked one off the batter's eye, about 15 feet above the 410-foot sign.
But the Nationals are doing their best to keep Harper's experience here normal - as normal as it can get for an 18-year-old kid.
"I'm just going to go out there and have fun," Harper said.
Because Harper is on the 40-man roster, the Nationals have to keep him in camp until a set date. Riggleman wasn't exactly sure of the date, but said it was sometime between March 5 and 12.