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Getaway day

Mar 29, 2011, 1:57 PM EDT

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Bryce Harper has returned from a sprained ankle and is slated to open the season.

VIERA, Fla. — Good morning one final time from Space Coast Stadium, where the Grapefruit League wraps up this afternoon with an early 12:05 p.m. game between the Nationals and Mets. It'll be Jordan Zimmermann vs. Chris Capuano. Adam LaRoche is in the lineup at first base.

Before we get to the exhibition finale, a couple of items to pass along…

– Bryce Harper is back playing in minor-league games one week after spraining his left ankle. Harper got two at-bats and played three innings in the field Sunday and would have played yesterday if not for the rain. It appears all systems are go for the 18-year-old phenom to make his minor-league debut with the rest of the Hagerstown club April 7 in Rome, Ga. The Nationals dodged a bullet with this one. They were originally worried this was something serious because Harper, after falling to the ground when he landed awkwardly on first base trying to beat out a grounder, wouldn't get up and had to be taken off the field on a cart. Obviously, the injury wasn't as severe as everyone feared, and Harper was back on his feet soon thereafter.

– The news isn't as positive for the player the Nationals drafted one round behind Harper last summer: Sammy Solis. The left-hander has a groin injury that will sideline him for the start of the season and couldRead more ยป

  1. Tcostant - Mar 29, 2011 at 2:10 PM

    I guess they told you? Why are the Nationals worring about what you write.

  2. Anonymous - Mar 29, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    So the Nationals were willing to have Bernadina and Morgan playing in Syracuse with Matt Stairs, Nix and Ankiel playing in Washington. Athleticism and defense come wrapped in interesting packages.

  3. Anonymous - Mar 29, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    I was told by front office staff that Matt Stairs and Harper are friends, that Stairs is viewed by Harper as a mentor. This is before it became clear there was a spot on the roster with Stairs name on it. So Zuck it up journalist dude. Why is no one talking about how Stairs made the team?

  4. NatinBeantown - Mar 29, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    Anon 10:22,I get your point on Stairs, but claiming that Ankiel isn't an athelete or great defender is completely wrong. The guy has a better arm than half the pitching staff and has the range for CF.Nix and Stairs in the pros while Bernie's in AAA has everything to do with (a) keeping everyone under team control, and (b) getting Bernardina 4ABs a day until there's a natural roster opening (due to injury, trade or performance) for regular playing time in DC

  5. Steve M. - Mar 29, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    – Finally, I need to clarify a couple of things I wrote in Sunday's analysis of the Nyjer Morgan trade. In that piece, I suggested the Nationals were actively trying to trade Morgan and that they would have released him had GM Mike Rizzo not been able to pull off a deal. A front-office executive informed me yesterday that Rizzo wasn't the one initiating trade discussions, that GMs from three others teams approached him expressing interest in Morgan. The Nationals also were fully prepared to option Morgan to Class AAA Syracuse had they not traded him and had no plans to release him. Ladson was saying the decision was made a while ago that Nyjer and Bernadina weren't going to make the team and that was told to him from a well placed source so how do you like that!The part about the Nationals were fully prepared to option Morgan to the Minors had they not traded him and had no plans to release him is easy to say in hindsight since he is traded now.What's done is done but we all know the Nats "inside information" game gives more hints, clues, and dis-information then the CIA. When you are wrong, they slap your hand and you can't say "Well I got the other information from a well placed source inside your organiztion". Mark, don't lose any sleep over that but kudos to Bill Ladson on getting his info (or prediction) to come true.

  6. Anonymous - Mar 29, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    RCR Update- Some problems that occured yesterday when people logged on should be fixed.- If you click on Enter Red Carpet Rewards, you'll get a First Time User's page. After filling out and then submitting that page, you will get your RCR card number(s). The number will also be on the cards, which have been mailed out.- The main RCR page,http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/was/ticketing/rewards.jspnow includes a link at the bottom of the page for the terms and conditions. This is where you will find all the gory details.- If you assign a RCR card to someone, they will have to establish a My Nationals Ticket account (or I think they can use an MLB account – check the terms and conditions) in order to use the card- If you assign points to another card, you can't take them back. They have to give them back.- You can give points to cardholders not in your STH group.- Blacked out games are erroneously listed as being evailable when you go to the Redemption page – this is a problem that is still being worked- If you have a plan (except mini-plans) and have not gotten the RCR launch e-mail, contact the Nats. All notification e-mails have gone out.

  7. N. Cognito - Mar 29, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    Have a safe trip home, Mark.

  8. Anonymous - Mar 29, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    I think the Phillies are gonna get old right before our eyes this year and plummet like a rock. I see the Nats surprising a lot of people this year.

  9. citizen16 - Mar 29, 2011 at 3:15 PM

    It's interesting to see people argue about players on the margin that did or didn't make the team. Having Bernadina on the team last year didn't help the Nats from a last place finish so why not try Nix. I have nothing against Bernadina and hope he does well, and chances are that he will be back in DC soon anyway (injuries happen).And keeping Stairs is essentially like carrying a DH that can only bat once a game. With Willie Harris playing that role the past two years, the Nats finished in last place so why not try someone who can hit HRs even though he can't really play the field.Sure, there are good reasons to make the opposite choices on those last roster spots, but the relative success of this season is more likey to turn on how the Nats starting pitchers perform. Can Zimmermann finally deliver on his promise?Can Livo come close to repeating his miracle performance from last year?Can Marquis perform well enough to be valuable at the trade deadline?Who is the real John Lannan? When will Detwiler be up with the big league team?Will Wang ever pitch in DC?And only 2 more days until opening day!

  10. Steve M. - Mar 29, 2011 at 3:23 PM

    Now that the 25 man is finalized for Opening Day, it is amazing how much things can change over a few weeks.The Nyjer Morgan debacle, Alberto Gonzalez traded, HenRod to the DL, Bernadina to AAA, and Storen gets back on track. Coffey spilled his cup but kept his job and Stairs and Nix got spots on the bench with Cora.So I sit back today looking at the 25 men (old and young) making up the Opening Day roster and try to ponder the wisdom in some of these moves and ask myself is this the best 25 or were a few moves like last year necessitated by option, etc.I will give Rizzo some credit in that he finally took care of the Nyjer situation. It took about 10 months longer than what I would have liked to have seen but better late than never. Wishing the 2011 Nats a lot of luck and would love to see the ST record translate over to the regular season.

  11. PAY TO PLAY - Mar 29, 2011 at 3:31 PM

    Anonymous said…I think the Phillies are gonna get old right before our eyes this year and plummet like a rock. I see the Nats surprising a lot of people this year. March 29, 2011 11:14 AM You read my mind on that one except I was thinking next year. Victorino declined badly last year and Ryan Howard declined some too. They really changed from a younger pitching rotation to a much older one and on paper the rotation does look as good as the 1965 Dodgers Koufax, Drysdale, Osteen, etc….and we all know as a team ages, injuries happen.Anon, I hope your vision comes true!!!!

  12. Theophilus - Mar 29, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    Ladson's obituary will prominently note that he exposed Michael Morse as a hitter with a long swing and unable to hit top-of-the rotation starters.GMs and other front office types — including those who pose as "inside sources" — of all teams obfuscate all of the time. This has become easier because two-thirds of the media (especially ESPN, Fox Sports, MSNBC, et al) have completely confused rumors with news, and will report anything as news so long as it is no more than four degrees of separation from the so-called source.Few true "journalists," e.g., our friend Mark, actually "cover" anything and are bound by the idea that their audiences are a reflection of their long-term reputations for credibility.Hence we are made susceptible to statements by the Brewers' GM 24 hours before the deal that they are "not interested" in Morgan and, after the deal, that the Nat's "lowered their asking price." While the last statement might (50/50) be true, it obscures the facts that (A) the Nats had other potential buyers; (B) the Nats took the Brewers' offer because it was the best one they could get; (C) ergo, the Brewers GM valued Morgan more highly than anybody else. At the end of the year, if Morgan has been a stiff, their GM has to come up with an explanation.Similarly, the notion the Nats weren't "actively" seeking to trade Morgan is ludicrous. If taking phone calls from four GMs (at least) isn't "active," then putting an ad on Craig's List isn't "actively" trying to sell your lawn tractor.Every thing these folks say has to be taken with a healthy dose of common sense.

  13. Carl in 309 - Mar 29, 2011 at 4:14 PM

    Thank you, Anon 11:05–My ST RCR e-mail just showed up. Haven't clicked on the link yet (the full 82 game notification came to our syndicate contact about a week ago; I get my 21-game set today–the pecking order is neither surprising nor remarkable).

  14. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Mar 29, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    Great ST coverage, as usual, Mark. Travel safely. Wear the longjohns for Opening Day. The Bell Rings Thursday. And, they're off…I'm praying for a strong start, a Phade by the Phillies, a collapse by the Mets and Marlins, and we're challenging ATL and Uncle Fredi for the wild card.I know, I know. My drug test is scheduled for 1 p.m. Let's go, Nats 82-80!

  15. Anonymous - Mar 29, 2011 at 6:23 PM

    For those of you complaining about Bernadina vs Nix & Stairs, do you really expect both of these guys to be with the Nats at the end of the season? One or both will be traded and Bernadina will see plenty of time in the big leagues this year. Nix and Stairs will be highly sought after pieces for teams in contention (or more in contention than the Nats.) In the last two days you've seen how the surplus they brought into camp has turned into two decent to good prospects for the minor league system, which while vastly improved, can still use plenty of beefing up. It's these same prospects, in addition to a Nix or Stairs that might end up netting us that impact/star player in a trade for the big club.

  16. Rabbit - Mar 29, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    Gee, I hate to hear the forcast for Solis since Zimmerman just got over the same thing??? Uh oh. Ok, now I've got to check to see how the Nats are doing today. I haven't looked yet.

  17. Anonymous - Mar 29, 2011 at 7:45 PM

    Pumped about the Erik Davis aquisition, hopefully he is a future #4 or #5 starter for us.

  18. masnstinks - Mar 29, 2011 at 8:10 PM

    I think it's dumb for Stairs to take a roster spot — but, as the season goes along he may become a really good trade chip. I hope that he gets his 1 hit every 3-4 games at really good times for lots of rbi's and makes himself look really good to the contending teams. Then, after Bernie gets lots of ab's in AAA, he will be ready to come back. We'll know how Ankiel is working out by then.

  19. Frediemac - Mar 29, 2011 at 8:13 PM

    Rabbit said… Gee, I hate to hear the forcast for Solis since Zimmerman just got over the same thing??? Uh oh. Ok, now I've got to check to see how the Nats are doing today. I haven't looked yet.Don't do it…Save yourself before it's too late just don't look..Storen..piece of^#$# …JZ peed down his leg$*&%(A($. At least it didn't count. LETS GO NATS!

  20. Naterial guy - Mar 29, 2011 at 8:38 PM

    @ Theophilus said…How much for that tractor

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