- The Washington Times
Friday, March 25, 2016

JUPITER, Fla. — The Washington Nationals had consecutive games scheduled at Roger Dean Stadium this weekend — roughly two hours from their facility in Viera — which meant some players would play one day and not the other.

Bryce Harper was penciled to play in Saturday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals at 1:05 p.m., but urged manager Dusty Baker to let him play Friday night against the Miami Marlins instead.

Others such as second baseman Daniel Murphy followed suit. With a 7:05 p.m. start — a rare spring training night game — the hope was to play under the lights before the regular season begins.

“I always like to have my guys playa couple of games under the lights because once the season starts, you play 80 percent of your games under the lights,” Baker said. “You’ve got to get acclimated to seeing the ball, picking up the rotation. It’s just a different game at night. I bet most of these guys would rather play at night.

“[Harper] had a preference to play under the lights because I don’t think he’s played under the lights this year.”

The Nationals never got the chance. Rain soaked the stadium turf for more than two hours before the scheduled start, turning the outfield into a swimming pool. According to a Marlins official, lightning struck a light tower in left-center field and knocked out a few bulbs. Water was pumped out of the dugout like a fire hose.

With the game cancelled, Baker will now have to find a way to get certain players their scheduled work, which can be difficult. Pitcher Tanner Roark was penciled in for six innings or 100 pitches, whichever came first. Roark will now pitch on Saturday against the Cardinals. The Nationals also have a split-squad scrimmage on Sunday against the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets.

“That would throw off my plan a little bit for tomorrow and the next day because I’ve got it mapped all the way through innings,” Baker said. “Some of the guys were going nine on the split-squad game.”

Washington will not get a chance to play a true night game, either. They did not have a spring training game scheduled for 7:05 until Friday and do not have another scheduled beyond 1:10 p.m. The The team will return to Nationals Park for two final exhibition games against the Minnesota Twins, one of which is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.

• Anthony Gulizia can be reached at agulizia@washingtontimes.com.

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