Harper leads Nats' 4-HR win in spring opener

Harper leads Nats' 4-HR win in spring opener

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Bryce Harper began his spring with a bang, as he launched a solo homer to start the second inning as the Nationals defeated the Mets, 8-6, on Saturday afternoon at First Data Field.

Harper's home run, which came off left-hander Sean Gilmartin, was the first of four Nationals homers on the day -- Neftali Soto hit a two-run homer in the fifth before Andrew Stevenson and Matt Skole hit back-to-back homers in the sixth inning.

"[The 0-1 changeup] just kind of faded too much towards the middle of the plate, and he put a pretty good swing on it. That's what good hitters do," Gilmartin said of Harper's homer.

Harper's long solo home run

The Mets also had an injury scare during the sixth inning when Nationals outfielder Rafael Bautista slid headfirst into the plate and collided with catcher Kevin Plawecki, who fell to the ground in pain. He was removed from the game with an left knee contusion and was replaced by catcher Xorge Carrillo.

Plawecki shaken up, exits game

Both teams had played a group of their regular position players on Saturday. David Wright, who went 0-for-2, made his spring debut as the designated hitter for New York in a lineup that included Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Reyes, Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce. Michael Conforto, who homered in the Mets' Grapefruit League opener on Friday, got New York on the board with an RBI single in the sixth.

Stevenson's two-run homer

Washington countered with left-hander Gio Gonzalez on the mound, and he tossed a scoreless inning with four of the team's starting position players behind him, including Harper, Trea Turner, Adam Eaton and former Met Daniel Murphy.

"They like to face the big dog pitchers too," Gonzalez said. "So you gotta go out there and try to do your thing. ... If you're going to bring your horses, we're going to bring our 'A' lineup, so it's just the way it is. It's Spring Training, everybody's getting some looks right now."

Nationals: The Nationals travel to Fort Myers, Fla., to take on the Twins on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET for their second Grapefruit League game of the year. The game will be broadcast on Gameday Audio. Right-hander A.J. Cole will start and is scheduled to throw two innings for Washington. Third baseman Anthony Rendon makes his spring debut in a lineup that will include Eaton.

Mets: Right-hander Chris Flexen takes the mound for the Mets on Sunday for the 1:10 p.m. ET start at First Data Field against the Tigers, which will air on MLB.TV and Gameday Audio. He will be opposed by Detroit lefty Matt Boyd. Flexen is stepping up in class, having spent the last five seasons in the Mets' organization. The 14th-round pick of the Mets in the 2012 Draft pitched at the Class A Advanced level last season, his highest so far. Right-handers Paul Sewald, Ben Rowen and Fernando Salas, and lefty David Roseboom, are also expected to pitch for the Mets.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.
Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Mets on Saturday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.