Harper opens spring with long home run

The Washington Post Sunday - - SCOREBOARD - Ex­cerpted from wash­ing­ton­post.com/na­tion­als

On Feb. 15, two days be­fore re­port­ing to spring train­ing, Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als out­fielder Bryce Harper posted an in­ter­est­ing photo on his In­sta­gram story. It was of a dig­i­tal scale read­ing 230, as in 230 pounds, and Harper was pre­sum­ably stand­ing on it, which meant he put on some sig­nif­i­cant weight dur­ing the winter af­ter be­ing listed at 215 pounds last sea­son.

“I just felt go­ing into the off­sea­son you want to get as strong as you can, try to main­tain your weight the best you can and just do ev­ery­thing the right way,” Harper said.

The mus­cle mass gain was clear when he ar­rived for camp at the Ball­park of the Palm Beaches, and Harper put the ad­di­tional bulk to im­me­di­ate use in the Na­tion­als’ Grape­fruit League opener Saturday against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla. He smashed the sec­ond pitch he saw, a hang­ing break­ing ball from New York left-han­der Sean Gil­martin, over the wall in right-cen­ter field at First Data Field to lead off the sec­ond in­ning. The ball landed well over 400 feet from home plate at the top of a mini hill, where it was picked up by a fan who had mis­judged the tra­jec­tory, an­tic­i­pat­ing it to land fur­ther down the hill. It was an em­phatic start to 2017.

“We were hop­ing he’d just run home, get in his car and drive back to our place,” Na­tion­als left­hander Gio Gon­za­lez said. “What a day.”

Harper had one more plate ap­pear­ance in the Na­tion­als’ 8-6 win be­fore get­ting pulled. He in­flicted his dam­age in even quicker fash­ion in his sec­ond at­bat, lash­ing a line drive to left field for a sin­gle on the first pitch he saw from right-han­der Lo­gan Tay­lor in the fourth in­ning.

“He came in, did his thing and went home,” Na­tion­als Man­ager Dusty Baker said.

Trea Turner, Wash­ing­ton’s new start­ing short­stop, com­mit­ted a throw­ing er­ror on his first play of the spring in the first in­ning, but Gon­za­lez, Wash­ing­ton’s starter Saturday, worked around it and emerged without dam­age. The left-han­der struck out Cur­tis Gran­der­son swing­ing at a curve­ball, got Yoe­nis Ce­s­pedes to ground out back to him and in­duced a fly­out from David Wright to re­tire the side. He threw 14 pitches — nine strikes — and his day was over af­ter the score­less frame.

“It’s one in­ning,” Gon­za­lez said. “It’s a good lineup they put out there. [Na­tion­als Catcher] Derek [Nor­ris] gave me a nice frame down there, and I was just try­ing to hit the tar­get, just keep my eyes on the glove the whole time.”


Na­tion­als right fielder Bryce Harper crushed a long home run off Mets left-han­der Sean Gil­martin in his first Grape­fruit League at-bat.

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