Bryce Harper to start season in Triple-A

Bryce Harper, a 19-year-old Washington Nationals prospect, warms Bryce Harper, a 19-year-old Washington Nationals prospect, warms up during the team's first official full squad workout at spring training. (Feb. 25, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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VIERA, Fla. — The Washington Nationals optioned 19-year-old outfielder Bryce Harper to Triple-A Syracuse where he can get experience in center field.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson said after the team’s 11-7 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Sunday that the timing wasn’t right for the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft to make the team out of training camp. When Harper is likely called up later this season he could play center field because the team is thin at that position. He played mostly in right this spring.

Jayson Werth, who played a lot of center field in camp, will go back to right field.

Harper was 8 for 28 (.286) in the Grapefruit League, including a 1-for-5 performance Sunday — he struck out in his first four at-bats, then doubled.

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