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Harper whiffs twice in debut

Feb 28, 2011, 8:41 PM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Bryce Harper reacts to striking out in his first at-bat of the spring.

Read my full story with postgame quotes on

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Bryce Harper's first at-bat in a big-league spring training game didn't last long, and didn't produce the result the 18-year-old Washington Nationals phenom or the crowd at DigitalDomain Park wanted.

And his second at-bat wasn't much better.

Harper struck out twice in two plate appearances, swinging and missing at offerings from Mets left-hander Taylor Tankersley and right-hander Ryota Igarashi.

Inserted in the game in the fifth inning as a pinch-runner for designated hitter Matt Stairs, Harper got his feet wet on the bases, then had to sit in the dugout for a while before getting his chance with a bat.

He came up to bat in the top of the seventh inning and swung at all three pitches he saw from Tankersley, fouling one off and then missing mightily twice at breaking balls. The crowd of 3,461 at the Mets' springRead more »

  1. NatsJack in Florida - Feb 28, 2011 at 8:44 PM

    Tankersly made Harper look like a high school kid trying to hit Major League pitching. oh…. wait a minute…. That's exactly what he is. 1 1/2 seasons starting in low "A" and progressing natuturally is the correct path.

  2. Rat Man - Feb 28, 2011 at 8:48 PM

    Bet the closest Harper gets to Washington is as an intern for Harry Reid.

  3. Edward - Feb 28, 2011 at 8:55 PM

    Mikey Mo certainly made his case for starting in left field and Nyjer made the case for Bernie starting in center!

  4. Anonymous - Feb 28, 2011 at 8:57 PM

    "Tip.""Whiff.""Whiff."Love ya! But see you in June 2012, son.

  5. phil dunn - Feb 28, 2011 at 9:00 PM

    How smart was that?—having Harper face a left hander in his first at bat!

  6. Theophilus - Feb 28, 2011 at 9:04 PM

    Saw the box score: Morse at 3B. The "emergency" infield plan is taking shape already. Good, maybe they can survive w/out Gonzalez or Cora.

  7. Theophilus - Feb 28, 2011 at 9:10 PM

    P.D.: Harper entered as a PR in the top of the 5th inning; Tankersley entered in the top of the 7th inning. Facing the LH was not by design.

  8. Tcostant - Feb 28, 2011 at 9:15 PM

    Scary article in the NY Post yesterday how Harper is just killing time until he can be a Yankee. Yuck!

  9. Ryan Zimm - Feb 28, 2011 at 9:16 PM

    Adam Dunn he ain't.

  10. 6thandD - Feb 28, 2011 at 9:17 PM

    I love Michael Morse. He can play.

  11. N. Cognito - Feb 28, 2011 at 9:21 PM

    Whoa! What's happening?Harper's supposed to be good enough to start the season in DC. I know because I've read it numerous times on this blog.Oh well. I'm sure he'll be in DC by June.

  12. phil dunn - Feb 28, 2011 at 9:24 PM

    Forget the platooning. We need an outfield of Morse, Bernadina and Werth.

  13. Rabbit - Feb 28, 2011 at 10:39 PM

    Today was the best thing that could have happened to Harper. Now low A is understandable. This gave him a good dose of major league pitching, and not the top tier of it either. He'll come along. Yes, this was good for him.

  14. Joe Seamhead - Feb 28, 2011 at 11:14 PM

    The Nats turned 3 double plays. Does anybody know how they were turned? I'm excited about the prospect of improved "D"As to Harper, it was an eye opener, eh?

  15. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 28, 2011 at 11:20 PM

    People, people, people. It was one pitch. OK, one game. Not much different.

  16. joemktg - Mar 1, 2011 at 12:01 AM

    The story of the day was the tandem with swagger…Morse and Bernadina (not that other tandem).Want nothing more but for those two to shine this Spring as they did today: if they do that, it changes the algorithm.

  17. BinM - Mar 1, 2011 at 12:18 AM

    @Joe Seamhead:The Nats turned one…2nd inning – Castillo (NYM) grounds into a 6-4-3 (Desmond-Espinosa-Barker)DP; end inning.But grounded into three… 3rd – Stairs (WSH) grounds into a 4-6-3 DP; end inning.4th – Morgan (WSH) grounds into a 4-6-3 DP; end inning. 6th – Hairston (WSH) grounds into a 4-6-3 DP; end inning.

  18. Doc - Mar 1, 2011 at 12:22 AM

    Harper's time will come, and soon. In the meantime the star of the game was Morse. Maybe the star of this year's Nats will also be Morse–he has had a habit, over the past two years, of surprising us. It looks like even Riggleman is finally catching up with what Morse can do.

  19. Anonymous8 - Mar 1, 2011 at 1:04 AM

    Dunn went 0-2 with 2 strikeouts to equal Bryce Harper.

  20. mjr - Mar 1, 2011 at 1:36 AM

    Didn't we lose the first dozen or so games of ST last year? I know they don't count but still… I'm walkin' with a bit of swagger now.

  21. Doc - Mar 1, 2011 at 2:13 AM

    @ Anonymous 8: Thanks for the update on Dunn. Somethin' to weigh and watch this season: Dunn's stats, and the new guy at 1B, as well as how the Nats are gonna do without him.

  22. A DC Wonk - Mar 1, 2011 at 3:58 AM

    > Dunn went 0-2 with 2 strikeouts to equal Bryce Harper. But I bet Dunn swung less ;-)I have another question, however:What's with the "eye black" stuff?

  23. Big Cat - Mar 1, 2011 at 11:15 AM

    Lets not get our panties all wadded up. The kid had good swings. Bottom line, both K's came on balls in the dirt. He was not overmatched. Nervous? Probably. Lets just let this play out some shall we

  24. Anonymous - Mar 1, 2011 at 6:34 PM

    Geez, so the kid faced a guy where SEASONED lefties are hitting .223 against and strikes out AND then he faces a RH Japanese pitcher and strikes out as well. NO BIG DEAL! I still think he could start Opening Day 2011 and excel, he is just that naturally talented.





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