March 6, 2012; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) bats in the sixth inning of the game against the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
• I knew the cartoon curve was coming. Bryce Harper knew it. Livan Hernandez threw it. But the 19-year-old outfielder still missed it, and went down 0-1 in his first AB against the big right-hander last weekend. The Nats' 2010 no.1 overall pick ended up singling off the 37-year-old, 16-year veteran hurler. The former Nationals' right-hander, who's trying to earn a spot in Houston's rotation and the future Nats' outfielder who's trying to win a role in Washington's Opening Day outfield were set to face off again this afternoon, but Harper was a late scratch from today's lineup. According to the Nationals (via @NationalsPR) on Twitter, the reason for the late scratch was left calf tightness. Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore added (@AdamKilgoreWP) that a Nats' official said it was, "'Nothing serious.'" The Nationals simply shifted Brett Carroll over to right field and replaced Harper with Eury Perez, who played center.
• Follow the game in our GameThread HERE.
• Ryan Zimmerman's 6 for 23 with two doubles and two HR's against Livan Hernandez in his career. The two have been teammates for five of Zimmerman's seven major league seasons with Hernandez pitching in D.C. in '05 (when Zim was drafted and debuted) and '06 before bouncing around the league (to Arizona, Minnesota, Colorado and New York) and finally returning to the nation's capital in 2009. Hernandez returned for two more seasons after that, but the team parted ways with the veteran right-hander after the 2011 season when there was no longer any room in their rotation for the soft-tossing control artist. Livan signed a minor league deal with the Astros this winter and he's in camp trying to work his into the rotation of what would be his eighth major league team. Zimmerman's last HR off Hernandez before today's (which he hit out to right in the bottom of the first to give Washington a 1-0 lead) came in August of 2007 when Hernandez was with Arizona. Today's blast was Zimmerman's first of the Spring and the two-out solo shot gave the Nats an early advantage...
Edwin Jackson started the game by retiring the first six batters he faced... More later.