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Wire Taps: Washington Nationals' Grapefruit League opener at 5:05 PM today

Before the first Grapefruit League game of the year for the Washington Nationals takes place this afternoon, catch up on the last 24 hours of Nats news. Bryce Harper vs Stephen Strasburg. Jayson Werth takes some swings. Links, tweets and more...

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

It's finally here!! Competitive baseball! Unfortunately, the only way to follow this afternoon's 5:05 PM game between the Washington Nationals and New York Mets (if you're outside of the NY/NJ area) is through's Gameday Audio, but you can always follow along here in FBB's GameThread (which will go up later) or through social media. We'll be following along as Max Scherzer takes the mound in Space Coast Stadium against the Nats' NL East rivals from New York. Can't wait, only six hours... Until then: How about some links. And it starts with some seriously exciting live batting practice action from yesterday in Viera, Florida...


• "Harper stepped into the batting cage against Strasburg on the backfields of Space Coast Stadium, two No. 1 overall draft picks facing off." - "Bryce Harper faces Stephen Strasburg in live BP; Jayson Werth tests shoulder with swings" - James Wagner, The Washington Post

• "But until Wednesday, the Nationals’ two No. 1 draft picks had never squared off against each other." - "Bryce Harper faces Stephen Strasburg in live BP (with video)" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider

• "Harper dug in on the left side of the batter's box and the tall right-hander reared back for the first pitch. Harper thrashed as Strasburg's fastball blew right past him, popping the catcher's mitt." - "Nationals Pastime: Harper faces Strasburg for first time" - Chris Johnson,

• "The first hitter to step into the batter's box against Strasburg? Bryce Harper." - "Friendly competition: Harper takes hacks vs. Strasburg" - Jamal Collier,

• "Well, it finally happened: Bryce Harper stepped in to face Stephen Strasburg in live BP yesterday in Viera." - "Bryce Harper faces Stephen Strasburg in live batting practice (Video)" - Nats Enquirer

NATS BEAT: Werth takes swings; Burriss in camp + more

• "Last season was shortstop Emmanuel Burriss’s first in the Nationals organization, signed to a minor league deal but without an invitation to big league spring training." - "Emmanuel Burriss, in big league camp, hopes to help Nationals" - James Wagner, The Washington Post

• "Mark sat down with Ian Desmond on Tuesday in Viera to get his thoughts on rejoining the Nationals after an offseason rife with trade rumors." - "Ian Desmond on the 2015 season and his future with Nats" - Nats Insider

• "Since he arrived in camp, Escobar has worked hard to get comfortable at his new position." - "Escobar's transition to second ahead of schedule" - Bill Ladson,

• "This morning, we found out the other pitchers who could also pitch against the Mets: right-handers Blake Treinen, Heath Bell, Aaron Barrett, Eric Fornataro and Rafael Martin, and left-hander Xavier Cedeno." - "Nationals Pastime: Williams reveals probable pitchers for first two games" - Chris Johnson,

• "Manager Matt Williams met with MLB officials earlier this week to discuss specifics on the new rules..." - "Williams says new rules will become second nature" - Jamal Collier,

• "Nationals Manager Matt Williams’s stance on the new pace of play rules his team will start dealing with during Thursday evening’s spring training opener is not to take one." - "Nationals by the numbers: deliberate hitters, efficient pitchers" - Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post

•"Zimmerman, a former University of Virginia standout, is making the move across the diamond this season after shoulder problems hampered his throws from third base during the last few years." -  "Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman Adjusting To First Base" - David Driver, Pressbox DC

• "The back of his baseball card will forever show Tony Gwynn Jr. played 80 big-league games in 2014, hitting .152 with a paltry .455 OPS for the Phillies." - "After a trying year, Tony Gwynn Jr. tries to come back with Nationals" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider

• "Gwynn wondered if he was ever going to get a chance to play baseball again, after no offers came his way during the offseason." - "After difficult year, Gwynn ready for fresh start" - Bill Ladson,

• "Certainly, a big storyline is how Yunel Escobar will handle the transition from shortstop to second base." - "Nationals Pastime: Nats set for Grapefruit League opener against Mets" - Chris Johnson,

Werth takes some hacks:

• "Jayson Werth admitted to being a little anxious to finally test his surgically repaired right shoulder." - "Eager to be ready by opener, Werth starts activity early" - Jamal Collier,

• "Jayson Werth took light swings off a tee Wednesday for the first time since his January shoulder surgery..." - "Jayson Werth hits off tee for first time since shoulder surgery" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider

Nationals Opinions - Boswell, Bloom, etc.:

• "Inside the Nationals' spring clubhouse at Space Coast Stadium is a row of lockers that's indicative of how strong their starting rotation may be this season." - "Scherzer eager to see how Nats' rotation stacks up" - Barry M. Bloom,

• "Since 1983, 14 teams have won their division by 15 games or more. Five — more than a third — failed to repeat..." - "Nationals should take nothing for granted" - Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post

NATIONAL(S) BEAT: Nats' don't shift, they shade...

• "The Washington Nationals shifted 196 times on balls in play in 2014. Only the Rockies had fewer shifts, according to Baseball Info Solutions." - "The Nationals also don't like the shift" - David Schoenfield, SweetSpot Blog - ESPN

• "Getting Scherzer opened an interesting issue. With so much talent on the mound, what do you do with the leftovers?" - "Best team in baseball? Nationals a good bet" - David Jones, Florida Today

• "Max Scherzer, who signed a seven-year, $210 million contract, will debut for the Nats in a potential preview of the Opening Day matchup in D.C." - "Morning Briefing: Bring on the Nats!" - Adam Rubin, Mets Blog - ESPN New York

• "The Indians aren't ready to make switch-hitting Zach Walters a jack-of-all-trades." - "Can Zach Walters multi-task way to big leagues? Cleveland Indians quick hits" - Paul Hoynes,

• "The former Cavalier is now 30 years old, and working hard to make the move seamless, getting out on the field early in the morning, and taking extra grounders after practice." - "Former UVa Baseball Star Ryan Zimmerman moving to First Base" - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

NL EAST UPDATES: Wheeler on Nats; Hamels still in PHI; Fish order; Jace...

Mets: "Zack Wheeler was talking about how much fun it will be matching up against the Nationals this season..." - "Wheeler, Mets have something to prove against Nats" - John Harper, NY Daily News

Phillies: "A bizarre mix of poor execution, bad luck, and by his own admission, complacency led to a subpar season in 2009, the only weak season of Hamels' career." - "2015 Phillies Player Preview: Cole Hamels" - Peter Lyons, The Good Phight

Marlins: "To some people, the batting order for the 2015 Miami Marlins may seem like a simple decision." - "Miami Marlins batting order prediction" - Daniel Smith, Fish Stripes

Braves: "[Jace] Peterson has impressed the Braves over the past couple weeks, and he opened some more eyes as he played shortstop during Wednesday's Grapefruit League loss to the Mets." - "Peterson makes impression in spring debut" - Mark Bowman,