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Papelbon struggles in ninth, Solis and Revere shine vs. Reds

Papelbon struggles in ninth, Solis and Revere shine vs. Reds

Leftover notes and observations from the Nats' 10-9 win over the Reds on Sunday afternoon...

Papelbon barely hangs on: On Sunday against the Reds, Jonathan Papelbon earned his 15th save of the season in 17 opportunities, but did so in a way that was far from smooth or easy. Papelbon inherited a 10-8 lead and allowed four baserunners and one run before Ivan De Jesus, Jr. flew out to the warning track with the bases loaded for the final out.

The one run Papelbon gave up - on a double by Brandon Phillips - came home before he even recorded an out. Papelbon has now surrendered a run in two of his last three outings. This was the third time this season he's earned a save despite allowing a run. In nine of his 15 saves he's allowed at least one baserunner and five times has he allowed two or more. 

Papelbon has a long track record as a successful closer, which is why the Nationals held on to him this winter despite all that went down late in 2015. But the 35-year-old hasn't exactly been lights-out so far this season.

Last summer they supplanted Drew Storen from the closer role when he had a 1.73 ERA and 29 saves in 31 chances. It's not an apples-to-apples comparison, of course, but the Nationals can only be so confident in Papelbon at this point and it's only June. One has to imagine the backend of their bullpen will get a long look over the next seven weeks leading up to the trade deadline.

Solis continues to shine: Papelbon didn't pitch well and neither did Felipe Rivero, who allowed a three-run homer in the seventh inning. But it wasn't all bad for the Nationals' bullpen, as Sammy Solis put in yet another impressive outing, one that was instrumental in the victory.

Solis took over for starter Tanner Roark, who made it only three innings, to go three scoreless frames with a career-high six strikeouts along the way. He now has a 1.59 ERA through 13 appearances (17 IP). He's tossed eight straight scoreless appearances, having not allowed a run in 12 1/3 innings with 17 strikeouts during that stretch.

The big lefty is showing why the Nats made him a second round pick in 2010, the same draft they took Bryce Harper No. 1 overall. Solis is proving a dangerous weapon with a mid-90s fastball, sharp curveball and a developing changeup. 

Solis' play has to be a big reason the Nationals haven't been in a rush to call up right-hander Matt Belisle, who paved the way for Solis' promotion from Triple-A with his right calf strain back in April. Solis has come up and shown he's worth keeping around, even if it means having three lefties in the Nats' bullpen. 

Revere breaks hitless streak: Ben Revere came through with two hits in Sunday's win after going hitless in six straight games (23 at-bats). It was yet another instance of Revere posting a multi-hit game during an otherwise putrid stretch.

Over Revere's last 16 games, six of them have been multi-hit outings while the other 10 have seen him go hitless. He hasn't had a one-hit game since May 17. For Revere lately, it's been feast or famine to an extreme degree.

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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