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Instant analysis: Phillies 9, Nats 3

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Instant analysis: Phillies 9, Nats 3

Game in a nutshell: An emotional weekend series ended with emotions ramped up to even higher levels. It all started with Cole Hamels drilling Bryce Harper in the back with a first-inning, first-pitch fastball. How did Harper respond? By stealing home. How did Jordan Zimmermann respond? By plunking Hamels in the leg. The Phillies got the last laugh, though. Hunter Pence crushed a two-run homer off Zimmermann in the fourth, and Hamels cruised the rest of the night to deal the Nationals a tough loss in the series finale. Making matters even worse, Jayson Werth suffered an apparent serious left wrist injury trying to make a sliding catch in right field in the sixth. And that was before the entire game blew up during a torturous, six-run ninth inning for the Phillies.

Hitting highlight: What else can you say about Harper? The kid has both the physical gifts and the baseball instincts to do some incredibly special things on the field. He didn't just go 2-for-3 and reach another time on the hit-by-pitch. He single-handedly swiped four extra bases with his hustle, going first-to-third on a single, turning a little looper to left into a double and -- of course -- stealing home.

Pitching lowlight: Zimmermann was sharp early on and showed some intestinal fortitude in retaliating Hamels' plunking of Harper by drilling the Phillies pitcher in the leg. But he fell apart during the fourth inning, serving up a two-run homer to Pence and allowing three more hits. He also loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh, needing Craig Stammen to enter from the bullpen and bail him out. He still got credit for a quality start, but by Zimmermann's lofty standards, this was not a quality performance.

Key stat: Harper became only the second Nationals player to steal home (Ian Desmond did it last year on the back end of a double-steal) and the first teenager to steal home in a major-league game since the Angels' Ed Kirkpatrick in 1964.

Up next: After a much-needed day off, the Nationals open a six-game road trip Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche are both expected to return to the lineup for the 7:05 p.m. game at PNC Park.

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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