Some quick hits from Washington Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker’s pregame meeting with reporters before we go and sample some of the food in Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
HARPER IS BACK!!!:
Bryce Harper is returning to the lineup tonight after sitting out of all three games with the Philadelphia Phillies this past weekend in Citizens Bank Park.
Baker was asked if he had any lingering concerns about Harper’s groin, which the 24-year-old outfielder tweaked on a diving catch in right field during last week’s series finale with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“I don’t know,” Baker said. “We don’t know until he gets out there. Guys always say they feel good, I just have to keep my eye on him and see if I see anything or any — usually he runs the bases, that’s when you’ll tell, but we’ll see.
“I gave him, I thought, ample time, he tested it, so, you’re asking me questions that I can’t really answer or know until he gets out there.”
TREA TURNER GETS MENTAL DAY:
Baker decided to give Nationals’ shortstop Trea Turner a night off after the 23-year-old infielder went 0 for 13 with a walk and six Ks in the Nats’ three-game set in CBP.
“Just more of a mental day than anything,” Baker explained when asked about the thinking in resting Turner.
“He’s played every day since he got back from being hurt. It just looked like his concentration and everything just wasn’t the same.
“I could tell he was starting to worry a little bit, quite a bit. So, you hate to take it off in this series, but you’ve got to consider the long run.”
GOODWIN REPLACED BAUTISTA ON ROSTER:
The Nationals were also apparently thinking long-term when they decided to call 26-year-old outfield Brian Goodwin up this afternoon and have him replace 24-year-old outfielder Rafael Bautista on the major league roster.
“It’s an organizational decision,” Baker said. “Just think Bautista needs to play, that’s the main reason, and Goody has been here before, serving in that role.”
WIETERS BACK IN BALTIMORE:
The veteran skipper was also asked about Matt Wieters returning to take on the Orioles for the first time after nine seasons in Baltimore.
Wieters signed a 1-year/$10.5M free agent deal with the Nationals this winter.
Baker, who was traded twice in his career, and had one opportunity to test free agency, said it’s always emotional when you face a former team.
“When you come into this game, you always think that you’re going to remain in the organization for twenty years,” Baker explained.
“But shortly after you get there, then you realize you probably won’t.
“That realization came to me when the Braves let Hank Aaron go back to Milwaukee and when [the Giants] traded Willie Mays back to the Mets.
“I was like, ‘Whoa,’ I guess I’ll be making a few stops. It’s always good to go back where you started and it’s added motivation.“
Wieters was asked this afternoon if he was surprised that the Orioles didn’t end up making him an offer this winter.
“You know, it was something that at the end of last year you kind of had the feeling that it may come in,” the 30-year-old catcher said.
“You always hope that you play for the same team forever, but it was something where I didn’t really know what was going to happen.”
“It was a matter of — I’ve always believed that we’re in certain places at certain times for a reason and I was in Baltimore for so long for a reason and I was in Baltimore for so many years for a reason and now in D.C.”
Game Time: 7:05 PM EDT; Gio Gonzalez vs Kevin Gausman in the series opener in OPACY.