Nationals

SEE IT: Schwarber, Bell launch first HRs of spring with Nats

Nationals

The Washington Nationals traded for Josh Bell and signed Kyle Schwarber in free agency this offseason with the hopes that both would provide much-needed pop in the lineup.

In a Wednesdayย Spring Training matchup with the Marlins came the first glimpse of that.

Schwarber blasted a solo homer in the second, and Bell followed suit with a blast of his own in the fourth. It was the first home run as a member of the Nationals for both, and a reminder that both are very good at hitting a baseball very far.ย 

For the two, the first big contact of 2021 will be a hopeful sign that they are destined for better things this season after poor showings in the shortened 2020 campaign. Bell posted a career-worst batting average (.226) and on-base plus slugging percentage (.669) in 57 games after being named an NL All-Star in 2019.ย 

Schwarber struggled as well, unable to build off a strong finish to 2019. The catcher-turned-outfielder posted career-low marks in batting average, on-base percentage and OPS as well.

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Whether that was real regression or just the consequences of a strange season will be seen in the coming months. The Nationals are hoping its the latter, as both have the potential to be productive middle-of-the-order bats that can deliver 30-plus homers.

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That's something Washington needs, as the departure of Anthony Rendon last offseason showed that Washington is lacking major contributions from anyone not named Juan Soto or Trea Turner. Schwarber and Bell have a chance to change that.

If the two can consistently do what they did on Wednesday, the Nationals could find themselves with a string of left sluggers that no opposing pitcher is going to want to see.ย