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Nats set franchise record in win over Braves

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Nats set franchise record in win over Braves

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: It's far too soon to know whether Tuesday night's stunning comeback will be the turning point in the Nationals' season. But it's probably safe to say this: It certainly woke this team's bats up.

After pounding the shell-shocked Braves for 13 runs during that record-setting rally, the Nationals came right back out tonight and pounded out 13 more runs (establishing a new franchise record). They got hits from every member of the lineup except for Ian Desmond (who did draw a walk), got five RBI out of Wilson Ramos, Danny Espinosa and Dan Uggla and got a bases-clearing single from none other than Jordan Zimmermann in the top of the fourth to complete the impressive showing at the plate.

Zimmermann also churned out seven strong innings to give the Nationals' bullpen a much-needed rest, holding the Braves to three earned runs. And so a ballclub that after two innings Tuesday night appeared on the brink of complete disaster has now won two in a row, thanks to an offensive explosion, and heads to New York feeling a whole lot better about itself than it did 48 hours ago.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: This was going to go to Zimmermann, whose 3-run single helped break the game open. But how could we gloss over another big night for the Most Popular Man in Atlanta, Mr. Dan Uggla himself? OK, so he didn't quite duplicate his incredible performance from Tuesday, but he did draw a walk, drive in a run with a groundout and then drive in another run with a base hit to left. So Dan Uggla, who drove in 10 total runs for the Braves last season, drove in eight runs against Atlanta in this series. And was paid handsomely by the Braves to do it.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Zimmermann still isn't quite in peak form. He's been quite hittable this season, allowing 32 base hits in 27 2/3 innings, and the Braves hit him fairly hard early in this game. But Zimmermann is getting better, and he got better over the course of tonight's outing. He gave up only one earned run on five hits over his final six innings, and he walked only one batter in the entire start. On this night, that was more than good enough for Zimmermann to become the first member of the Nationals' rotation to earn his second win of the season. (Which is a pretty crazy fact in and of itself.)

KEY STAT: Bryce Harper is now on pace to draw 155 walks this season. Only four players in MLB history have done that: Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth, Mark McGwire and Ted Williams.

UP NEXT: The final leg of this East Coast road trip takes the Nationals to New York, where the first-place Mets await for a big, 4-game series. Stephen Strasburg (1-2, 4.88) faces Jacob deGrom (2-2, 2.96) in Thursday's 7:10 p.m. opener at Citi Field.

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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

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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