• Today's Top 5:
5. Play Ball!!: The sort-of-competitive part of the 2011 season began today in Port St. Lucie, Florida when the Washington Nationals and New York Mets met at Digital Domain Park in the Nats' Grapefruit League opener. Nyjer Morgan started the 2011 campaign by popping out foul of third to the Mets' Danny Murphy, Ian Desmond "tripled" to center on a fly off Mets' right-hander Mike Pelfrey that carried on Angel Pagan and Roger Bernadina "muscled" a fastball to right on the first pitch he saw for a line drive RBI single that scored Desmond and the Nats' first run of the Spring. Bernadina then stole his first base of the Spring, but two outs later was stranded with the Nats ahead 1-0 after a half.
4. Quint: "This shark, swallow you whole.": Roger Bernadina lined to right for an RBI single in his first AB, powering a fastball high and in on the fists to right field. The 26-year-old outfielder's fighting for a roster spot this Spring and after stories surfaced last week suggesting that he might not be as sure a thing in left as some had thought, the one-time Montreal Expos' prospect has something to prove. Bernadina bunted his way on in his second at bat in the third, walked on four pitches the third time up in the fifth and ended his Spring debut 2 for 2 with an RBI and a walk. What have you got, Ankiel?
3. Wilson Ramos vs Jesus Flores: The Nats' started Wilson Ramos this afternooon, but it was announced that Jesus Flores was also going to see some time behind the plate today. The two are reportedly battling for a spot behind future Hall of Fame catcher Pudge Rodriguez. Ramos started his Spring by slicing a single to right off Pelfrey in the second, and followed with a leadoff double to left on the first pitch of the fourth from new Mets' pitcher D.J. Carrasco. Ramos then scored on a play at the plate (which had me holding my breath for a second) to momentarily put the Nats ahead 3-2, and was replaced by Jesus Flores, who got his first AB in the top of the fifth, popping out to strand pinch runner Bryce Harper, (see no.2). Flores K'd swinging at an 0-2 pitch from Taylor Tankersley in his second at bat and then K'd swinging again in his third trip to the plate. Flores ends the day 0 for 3 with 2 K's. Ramos goes 2 for 2 with a double and two runs scored. Verdict: Game 1 goes to Ramos. Sorry, Flores.
2. Harper Runs For Stairs: Bryce Harper makes first appearance of the Spring as a pinch runner for 43-year-old bench bat Matt Stairs, after Stairs singles through second to score Ian Desmond and put Washington up for good at 4-3 in the fifth. The Nats' 18-year-old phenom is stranded when Roger Bernadina gets thrown out at third trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt and Jesus Flores pops out ends the frame. Harper remains in as a DH. But let's talk about Reese Havens? The SNY crew couldn't have planned it, right? But as Harper first stepped to the plate, the Mets broadcast cut to an interview with the Mets' infield prospect Reese Havens, who seems like a nice enough kid, really. The '08 1st Round pick, taken 22nd overall out of the University of South Carolina put up a .312/.386/.592 slash line in 32 games with the Mets' Double-A affiliate in Binghampton last year but his season was cut short by an oblique injury...Harper K's swinging on on three pitches from Tankersley. Mets' right-hander Ryota Igarashi was on the mound the second time Harper came up, and Harper K'd swinging again, this time on a 1-2 splitter. Filthy. Harper 0-2, 2 K's in Spring debut.
1. "Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me? M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-R-S-E!" - souldrummer: Taylor Tankersley gave Michael Morse a chance to show off against left-handers and the right-handed power hitter showed everyone why there's a large contigent of fans in the nation's capital who are still asking "WHY NOT MORSE?" in left field. They're screaming it actually...which is odd, really, since Morse's spot on the roster as the right-handed part of the left field platoon and backup first baseman is a pretty safe bet, especially if he crushes pitches like he did today. First it was a two-run blast for the 28-going-on-29-year-old power threat in the seventh, then in the ninth with all of NatsTown just hoping to see another Harper AB, Morse hits another two-run HR, this one to right off Mets' right-hander Ryota Igarashi. Oppo boppo from Morse. 9-3 Nats on Morse's second HR of the Spring. 3 for 5 with 2 HR's and 4 RBI's. Not a bad start, Mr. Morse.
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