The Washington Nationals kicked off their 2011 spring training schedule with a 9-3 win over the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla., but the big news was the professional debut for 2010 No. 1 draft pick Bryce Harper. The 18-year-old phenom did not fare well in his first two plate appearances, striking out in both of them.
Harper entered the game in the fifth inning as a pinch-runner for Matt Stairs and remained in the game at designated hitter. In his first at-bat, lefty Taylor Tankersley got him to strike out on three pitches, and he didn't fare any better against Ryota Igarashi. Harper was only expected to make one plate appearance, but ended up making two after his first one went so poorly.
The Nationals ended up winning on the strength of Michael Morse and Ian Desmond, who both hit home runs. Stairs ended up driving in the go-ahead run in the fifth inning before being relieved by Harper.
The Nationals will play the Mets again Tuesday at Space Coast Stadium. Harper is expected to be a late-game replacement for Jayson Werth in right field.