It’s the dog days of spring: Opening Day lurks more than two weeks in the distance, and the mere *idea* of baseball is less exciting than it once was. We’ll take the real thing, please and thanks.
Here’s what’s new in West Palm:
The Nationals’ outfield will be fine without Bryce Harper (BtBS)
Juan Soto was probably better than Bryce Harper last year. Victor Robles may be a better prospect than Bryce Harper ever was (though it's unlikely). On top of Adam Eaton and Michael A. Taylor, the Nats should get 9 fWAR from their outfield in 2019 per the oft-conservative Steamer, just one fewer than the 10 fWAR they got last season.
No Bryce Harper, No Problem for D.C. Sports Bars and Nationals Fans (WCP)
As it turns out, local sports bars aren't worried about losing Bryce Harper — because their fans tell them that they think everything will be just fine, especially with Juan Soto in town.
Update on each club's top position battle (MLB.com)
"With the question of Washington’s fifth starter all but answered, as Jeremy Hellickson has pitched well this spring and is a virtual lock for the rotation, the focus shifts to whom the Nats will carry as utility players. It was initially thought that veteran Howie Kendrick and Wilmer Difo would lock down the two spots, but that was recently thrown into doubt given Kendrick’s health and Difo’s spring performance thus far."
Carter Kieboom taking in spring training (MLB.com)
Kieboom, who homered in yesterday's 6-4 win, has gotten a rep as a "gym rat" in the batting cages, and is desperately trying to absorb everything he can get from his veteran teammates.
Adrian Sanchez getting first chance in outfield today (MASN)
Sánchez got his first start in the outfield this spring, just in case someone goes down and the Nats desperately need an outfielder.
Adrian Sánchez comfortable in left field (MLB.com)
Sánchez has all of nine professional appearances in left field, but some Spring Training reps have increased his confidence. In the meantime, Justin Miller returned with little issue, and Trevor Rosenthal ran into some trouble.
Quick-pitching Hellickson finding early spring success (MASN)
Jeremy Hellickson's fastball tops out at 90 MPH, so he's messing around with a quick-pitch that could decrease the batter's reaction time — and he feels like it may be working based on the results from his last start against the Astros. He's even switching between windup and quick pitch mid-start, oddly enough.
Nats Get Back on Track with 6-4 Win over Astros (NationalsProspects)
Jake Noll went 0-1, while Victor Robles went 1-for-4 and Luis Garcia enjoyed a nice day during his senior spring.