ballpark, plus five other fullsized practice fields apiece.
“To be the road team and only have to travel 100 yards is pretty remarkable,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.
For the record, Washington’s Daniel Murphy got the first hit and the Astros’ Carlos Beltran launched the first homer, a two-run shot in the fourth inning. Beyond the left field berm resides the Houston executive offices, which Washington’s Derek Norris hit on one bounce for a home run. Harper doubled home the first run.
Mike Fiers, competing with Joe Musgrove to be the Astros’ No. 5 starter, allowed a run and four hits in two innings. Astros reliever Will Harris exited in the fifth inning because of what he described as groin tightness.
Harris, a first-time AllStar last season, threw 10 pitches and retired both batters before signaling to Hinch for trainer assistance. He came out of the game, his first of the spring, as a precaution, he said.
A crowd of 5,987 fans attended, and a big attraction seemed to be the racing president mascots, who made the trip from Nationals Park. Instead of Teddy Roosevelt, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln, the opener featured William Taft, Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge.
Along with clubhouses that rival most of those at major league ballparks in both size and number of televisions, the Nationals’ side of the facility features a training pool, which began to be filled on Monday.
“A diving board would have been nice — maybe a slide,” joked Jeremy Guthrie, who threw the first pitch Tuesday after morning rain cleared out.
There are still permanent fixtures that need work at the park that holds over 7,000 — some concession stands won’t open for a few more games, and not all bathrooms had hot water. But what was accomplished in 15 months since the ballpark’s approval was lauded by players, coaches, fans and Commissioner Rob Manfred, who was in attendance.
“The stadium bowl itself is absolutely first rate, but I think the back fields and practice areas are amazing, as well,” Manfred said.
About 15 minutes from the new ballpark is Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, shared by the Cardinals and Marlins.
“I love the idea of spring training baseball in southeastern Florida,” said Manfred, who has an apartment close to West Palm Beach. “I actually think it’s not just personal, it’s good for the game to have two centers of baseball in the state of Florida. It allows teams to keep their travel time down.”
The Astros moved from Kissimmee, which had other teams in the area. The Nationals trained in Viera, from where bus rides of two and three hours were the norm. This spring 27 of their 34 games will be played in Palm Beach County. Three more will be played two counties north at the Mets’ facility in Port St. Lucie.
Designated hitter Carlos Beltran went 1 for 2 with a tworun homer in the Astros’ 4-3 loss to the Nationals on Tuesday at the teams’ new park.