Mar 11, 2014; Melbourne, FL, USA; Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond (20) at bat against the New York Yankees in spring training action at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

District Daily: 3/12

Start off your day with some great reads from our fellow Washington Nationals writers:

Williams, Nats prepare to test replay system

(Bill Ladson,

VIERA, Fla. — The Nationals will get their first taste of instant replay when they play the Astros at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, Fla., on Wednesday afternoon.

According to Nationals manager Matt Williams, bench coach Randy Knorr will be in communication with the video people watching the game from Space Coast Stadium. There will be a direct line into the Nats’ dugout.

…”If it means something to our team, we are going to use it. If we are confident that we are right, we get another [chance],” Williams said. “In any situation where something like that comes up, I would imagine I would ask the umpire to take a look at it. If we have to get to the situation where we challenge, then we challenge. We have to make sure that we will be able to get it changed for our team.” Read full article here.

Post-hype, Harper emerges as complete package

(Richard Justice,

VIERA, Fla. — Bryce Harper is about to have a monstrous season, and remember you heard it here first.

You haven’t forgotten Bryce Harper, have you?

“Time flies, doesn’t it?” Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond said.

Yes, indeed. Two short years ago, we showed up at Spring Training to watch Harper’s every swing and to record his every word. Incidentally, his batting practices are still incredible displays of power and quickness. Scouts who’ve seen thousands of games still marvel at the show Harper puts on.

Back to two years ago. Harper was 19 years old. He’d passed every test in the Minor Leagues. Back then, the only question was when the Nats would promote Harper to the big leagues.

Answer: April 28, 2012. Harper started in left field that night at Dodger Stadium, batted seventh and had a seventh-inning double off Chad Billingsley.

Cue the circus.

When Harper played softball on the National Mall, it became big news. When an opposing pitcher,Cole Hamels, plunked him for no apparent reason, it became even bigger news.

So did pretty much everything else Harper did.

Amid the hype, two defining story lines emerged. Read full article here.

Steven Souza Jr. impresses at Nationals training camp less than three years after nearly quitting

(James Wagner, Washington Post)

VIERA, Fla. — In the fall of 2011, Washington Nationals prospect Steven Souza Jr. quit the sport he loved and the team that drafted him. He had already served a suspension for violating baseball’s drug policy and been benched by his manager. So rather than report to the team’s offseason instructional league in Florida, he went home to Everett, Wash.

Souza contacted major college coaches about playing football. The responses were positive, but “once I got the e-mails back, I had a reality check,” he said Tuesday morning. “Do I really want to do this?”

Now, at 24, he is at his first major league spring training and is a legitimate prospect in the Nationals’ system. His speed and power have caught the eye of Manager Matt Williams.

“He’s a man,” Williams said of the 6-foot-4, 225-pound outfielder. “He understands the game. He’s aggressive. . . . I’ve been impressed with his makeup first and foremost, and the way he’s played this spring, he’s been great.” Read full article here.

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