WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Welcome to the 2024 Grapefruit League season, everyone! The Nationals open exhibition play tonight with a home game against their spring complex co-habitants, the Astros, at the newly renamed CACTI Park of the Palm Beaches. The facility, which first opened in 2017, is being rededicated tonight, with special guest Travis Scott (who founded CACTI hard seltzers, in addition to being a Grammy-winning rap artist) throwing out the ceremonial first pitch to Josiah Gray.
As for the game itself, the Nationals will be trotting out what could be their Opening Day lineup. The batting order could be switched around from this, but for now it’s a 3-4-5-6 of Joey Gallo, Joey Meneses, Jesse Winker and Keibert Ruiz. Interesting twist: Gallo is at first base, with Meneses serving as designated hitter after a winter spent talking about how he may be a more productive hitter when he’s also playing the field. Again, this is just one game, so don’t draw any conclusions until we have more lineups to consider.
All of those starters are scheduled to take one or two at-bats before departing. That means plenty of playing time for backups, and tonight that will include three top outfield prospects: Robert Hassell III in left field, Dylan Crews in center field, James Wood in right field. That will be fun to watch.
Patrick Corbin gets the start, scheduled for two innings and 35 pitches. And he’ll be followed by two more starters: Jackson Rutledge and Joan Adon, each also scheduled for two innings and 35 pitches. Eventually, we’ll see a few relievers.
If you’re interested in watching tonight’s game, you can pick up the Astros’ TV broadcast on MLB.tv and tape-delayed at 10 p.m. on MLB Network. You can also listen to Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler on nationals.com.