BY PETER HAILEY
Even though Tyler Clippard just became a member of the Mets on Monday, he's already adopting a philosophy that his new teammates have had all season long: The Nationals are public enemy No. 1, and they need to be taken down.
Clippard, who pitched for Washington from 2008-2014, was acquired by New York in exchange for a minor leaguer just a few days ahead of the MLB's trade deadline, as the team wanted to bolster its bullpen for the year's stretch run. Currently, the Mets are two games back from the NL East-leading Nats, and have been pursuing them for a few months now.
It sure sounds like Clippard is eager to join the hunt.
"The Mets, here, are right in the mix," Clippard said to ESPN. "And it's going to be a lot of fun chasing down my old teammates there in Washington. There's a lot of incentive there for me on a personal level and on a professional level to get the job done here in New York."
That wasn't the only thing Clippard said about his former employer, though. Not only does he want to catch the Nationals -- he thinks it can be done, too.
"They're beatable," Clippard said. "There's no perfect team in baseball right now. Everybody can go on skids. Everybody is vulnerable... It's one of those things -- you've got to play the season out and see what happens."
The 30-year-old reliever, who is currently sporting a 2.79 ERA, won't have to wait long to face his old club: New York and Washington will square off this weekend in the Big Apple in a three game series that concludes with a Sunday night game. The showdown will give Clippard his first chance to act on what he's said about the Nationals -- and provide an opportunity for Nationals' hitters to respond as well.
MORE NATIONALS: Team acquires Jonathan Papelbon for minor leaguer
It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.
It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.
They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training.
RELATED: TIM TEBOW'S AT-BAT VS. MAX SCHERZER ENDED JUST HOW YOU'D EXPECT
Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.
Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.
Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats.
RELATED: CAMELS JOIN NATS AT SPRING TRAINING
We are fortunate enough to live in a world where we can watch a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (attempt to) hit against a three-time Cy Young pitcher in a Major League Baseball preseason game.
Max Scherzer took less than a minute to strike out Tim Tebow, who was batting cleanup for the Mets in a spring training game Friday. You can watch the whole at-bat here:
It looks like Tebow and Scherzer are starting to develop a pattern - last year’s matchup between the two went down the exact same way.
Tebow was able to redeem himself later in the game with his first hit of the year against Nats prospect Erick Fedde. He will likely begin the season with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he believes Tebow will eventually see some at-bats in the Majors.