It was a glorious day for baseball fans everywhere. After four cold, depressing, baseball-less months, there were live games on TV again.
Though the Washington Nationals lost their first game of Spring Training to the New York Mets, 5-3, it allowed us to see what kind of shape each player (and his facial hair) was in coming out of the offseason.
Only four regular season, everyday players for the Nationals got in the game: Denard Span (CF), Bryce Harper (LF) and Ian Desmond (SS), plus pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Craig Stammen.
Span had a relatively non-descript outing, although he tweeted that he’s liking how he looks in Nats red.
Harper went 1-for-3 with a single, and he was hitting balls with a vengeance, smacking the first pitch of his first at-bat so hard down the foul line you couldn't help but gasp a little. Harper also put on a juggling show in left field during the third inning when the ball he was attempting to catch bounced off his glove, then his leg, before he snatched it out of the air. Classic Harper.
Desmond continued his tradition of eagerness, swinging at his first spring pitch for a single to left. In the words of the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore, Desmond "is still on pace to take zero pitches in 2013.” Also, his mustache is in mid-season form.
Strasburg was less successful in his first outing, but nothing so dramatic as to stir up the tired shutdown conversation again. He threw 42 pitches in two complete innings, struck out one and earned two runs. After giving up a two-run homer to Ruben Tejada in the first inning, he settled in during the second. Overall he was pleased with his performance and his ability to adjust, despite calling the first inning a “debacle,” according to the Nationals website. Strasburg said he usually takes a while to get back into the rhythm of things, and that is what Spring Training is for anyway.
Lots of new faces made it into Saturday's game as well. Prospects such as Matt Skole, Anthony Rendon, Chris Marrero, and Zach Walters all saw time, and contributed with a walk and two hits between the four of them.
The Nationals will play their first home game of the spring tomorrow at 1:05 p.m. against the Miami Marlins.