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On Desmond, Stammen and Harper

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On Desmond, Stammen and Harper

PHILADELPHIA -- We kind of got caught up in the ninth-inning drama from last night's game, but there were plenty of other significant developments that played out during the 2-1 win over the Phillies. And we wouldn't want to ignore those altogether. So let's run through the other hot postgame topics of discussion...

-- Ian Desmond once again produced at the plate. With a second-inning homer (his seventh of the season) and a fourth-inning RBI single, he wound up driving in both of the Nationals' runs. Desmond seems to have taken quite well to the fifth spot in this new-look lineup -- he's 5-for-13 with three doubles, a homer and four RBI -- and he certainly seems comfortable as a middle-of-the-lineup hitter.

The third-year shortstop had an interesting explanation for his sudden power surge, which you can read in Chase Hughes' postgame article.

-- Also lost in the shuffle a bit was another fantastic performance by Craig Stammen, who took over for Gio Gonzalez in the seventh and wound up tossing two scoreless innings. How remarkable (and unexpected) is it that the 28-year-old right-hander has transformed himself from a back-of-the-rotation also-ran into a long reliever into one of the most-dominant setup men in the majors?

Though he admits he's surprised how this all worked out, Stammen isn't surprised that he's been able to make this transition, thanks in large part to the manner in which Davey Johnson has been using him since Opening Day.

"The way Davey's used me pretty much the entire year is if a lefty starter is pitching, I was kind of getting in the game at any point," he said. "So there's been games, not necessarily we were winning 2-0, but we're losing 2-1 or it's tied. I've been in games like that. So pitching in close ballgames is nothing new. To me, it's the same whether you're winning or losing. If it's close, you can't give them an inch."

With Henry Rodriguez struggling and Brad Lidge and Drew Storen still recovering from injury, some have questioned whether Stammen could take over as closer. He does have a little experience doing that at the University of Dayton, but he's not expecting to get the call from Johnson yet.

"I'll leave that up to him," Stammen said. "I did that in college, and it was pretty fun. We'll see. I don't think I've quite earned it yet. There's other people in our bullpen that have done the job quite well over the years."

-- Perhaps the biggest storyline entering the game was Bryce Harper making his first appearance at Citizens Bank Park, but that didn't turn out to be much of an issue. Yes, the kid was booed every time he stepped to the plate, but the catcalls almost seemed cursory, as if the Philly crowd felt like it was just supposed to boo Harper but not entirely sure why.

No Duracells or Energizers were thrown in Harper's direction, though it did appear someone tossed some kind of garbage near him as he caught a flyball in the ninth.

Perhaps the most interesting interaction Harper had yesterday came hours before the game, as Chase explains in this piece.

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE