VIERA, Fla. - The Nationals finished their first full-squad workout early this afternoon, on a day where Bryce Harper again claimed much of the attention. The 18-year-old took live batting practice against Shairon Martis and Brian Broderick, fouling off a handful of pitches and hitting two hard balls that might have gone for hits in a real game. But today's session didn't feature any of the home runs Harper hit when facing a batting practice pitcher yesterday.
The way Harper left the field was also much different than yesterday. Worried about the autograph seekers that backed Harper against a fence on Monday, the Nationals brought him and Jayson Werth off the field in golf carts, taking a circuitous route around two fields to keep them away from fans. Manager Jim Riggleman has said he wants Harper to sign autographs, but is concerned with the process becoming difficult for the 18-year-old. The Nationals had a team meeting right after their workout today, so they were concerned with getting Harper back for that.
One other interesting note from the field today: New third base coach Bo Porter, who will be working with the Nationals' outfielders this year, had them doing a drill where they chased a fly ball with a football in their throwing hand. The purpose was to emphasize running form, having players chase balls with their arms high and tight to their bodies, before putting their gloves up at the last second. "It has a purpose," Werth said. "I think Bo was just trying to emphasize staying under control. It's an interesting drill. I've never done it before. But it's the first day of spring training, so you've just got to go with the flow."
Werth spoke to reporters for the first time in camp this afternoon, and Bryce Harper is also supposed to talk later today. I'll have more from both players this afternoon.