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The latest on Bryce Harper as he sits out with leg injury

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The latest on Bryce Harper as he sits out with leg injury

Bryce Harper was out of the Nationals' lineup on Friday for their series-opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates, as he rests his sore left hamstring that was injured during the sixth inning of Thursday night's loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Nationals are calling the injury a mild left hamstring strain, but they will not know the full extent of his diagnosis for another day or so. Harper is expected to take light swings in the batting cage and will cautiously test the hamstring through the weekend.

"He's sore and hasn't done a whole lot today," manager Matt Williams said. "He's off for today and we'll evaluate after today after he's done all of his treatment and see what we have for tomorrow."

Harper said on Thursday night he does not believe the injury is serious, though it was a scary moment for the right fielder. Harper had surgery on his left knee following the 2013 season to remove a bursa sac that had plagued him for most of the summer. Given the history, he was admittedly worried when the play first happened, though he felt more encouraged after meeting with team doctors.

Williams was asked if Harper's newest injury has anything to do with his knee and he avoided specifics:

"Given what's gone on this year and the intricacies of which things have happened, we're getting hammered about it anyway so we're not going to go there. What we'll do right now is say that he's sore. We'll evaluate it every day and we'll take the appropriate steps necessary to make sure that he's 100 percent ready to go when he is ready to go."

Playing in Harper's place on Friday night was 30-year-old rookie Clint Robinson, who spoke before Friday's game about filling in for the young superstar.

"He's the first-half MVP of the National League, I think. For him to be out, we can't really replace a guy like that," Robinson explained.

"I'm not Bryce Harper, nobody is. For anybody to expect me to go out there and do what he does, it's kind of a lofty goal. I'm just going to go out there and do what I always do, whether I'm in the four-hole or in the nine-hole. I'm just going to go up there and put together good at-bats and play good defense. That's all I can concentrate on."

Williams spoke on Thursday night about how other players on the roster will need to step up if Harper is out for an extend period of time. Robinson echoed that sentiment on Friday.

"We definitely have the talent to win ballgames. There's a lot of established guys that are still in the lineup and healthy. We've got to find a way to get it done," he said.

"Baseball, this is the major leagues. This isn't Little League. We've gotta go out there and overcome injuries and just do the best you can and pull them out any way you can."

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was asked about Harper's absence before Friday's game and had an interesting comparison to offer.

"It's like our lineup without having McCutchen. That doesn't mean the lineup without him can't beat you or it can't score runs. It's just different," he said. "They've had to deal with more than their fair share of injuries and they're still competing."

After battling significant injuries each of the last two seasons, Harper had made it through the 2 1/2 months of this campaign missing only two games (each time after getting hit by a pitch). Healthy for the first time in a long time, he has produced huge offensive numbers, leaving Thursday’s game with 22 homers, 53 RBI, a .344 batting average and MLB-leading .476 on-base percentage, .720 slugging percentage and 1.197 OPS.

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Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

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USA Today Sports Images

Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

Now that pitchers and catchers have reported, the next step in our long journey to Opening Day is the spring training games themselves. Not every game is televised, so get ready to follow along with your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll still be exciting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Bryce Harper homered again, or if Max Scherzer is perfect through 4 innings (spoiler: both of these will happen).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing contracts in the next few weeks. The Nats are always willing to make a big splash, and even beyond the available free agents, have been linked to impact players like J.T. Realmuto in trade rumors.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the roster has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be happening while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for their seasons, so bookmark this page to check on the Nationals spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Nationals 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Braves at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Feb. 26 - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 1 (SS) - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Tigers at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Monday, Mar. 5 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 6 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Nationals at Tigers, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 13 (SS) - Mets at Nationals, 7:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 (SS) - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Mar. 17 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (ESPN2) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Nationals at Mets, 6:10 pm
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 - Nationals at Marlins, 7:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 27 (at Nationals Park) - Twins at Nationals, 4:05 pm
 

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May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

The start of spring training is a glimmer of hope during the cold of winter. It means warm weather, cold beers and hot dogs at the ballpark are coming your way.

It's our first chance to get a taste of how our favorite team is shaping up for the 2018 season, and for those who are not quite into just the game itself, betting odds.

CG Technology, a Las Vegas sportsbook operator, has set the 2018 odds for each MLB team.

Specifically, how are things looking for the local teams?

RELATED: 2018 SPRING TRAINING REPORT DATES

Washington Nationals: 91 1/2 wins

The 2018 season is looked at by many as the last World Series run for some time for the Nationals and their core group of players. Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez will become free agents after the 2018 season in addition to general manager and President of Baseball Operations, Mike Rizzo.

In 2017, the team won 97 games and went on to win the NL East, but couldn't make it past the first-round of the National League Division Series. In 2018, Vegas is giving the Nats 7/2 odds of taking the National League title. They are just behind the Chicago Cubs, who knocked them out of contention last season, at 4/1 odds.

As far as winning the World Series, Vegas is giving the guys an 8/1 chance of their first title, tied with the Cubs.

Baltimore Orioles: 77 1/2 wins

The O's finished the 2017 season with 75 wins, which could be considered somewhat of an accomplishment considering their pitching resources.

The same problem will occur in 2018 as the organization hasn't signed any new starting pitchers. Vegas is giving them 50/1 odds of taking the American League title and 100/1 odds of winning the World Series.

The lack of depth in their rotation will come back to bite them as division rival New York Yankees have 5/1 odds of winning the World Series and the Red Sox have 10/1 odds.

A below average season should be expected.

A few other standouts, good and bad, include the Miami Marlins at 500/1 odds of winning the World Series, the Kansas City Royals at 200/1 and current champions, the Houston Astros, at 6/1 odds.

RELATED: FORMER NATS PITCHER ARRESTED WITH MORE THAN 40 POUNDS OF SUSPECTED COCAINE