Bryce Harper scheduled to make spring training debut Monday

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Bryce Harper has no chance of actually making the Opening Day roster, but the 18-year-old No. 1 overall pick is in big-league camp and Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com reports that his spring training debut will come Monday as the Nationals open the exhibition schedule versus the Mets.

Harper, who was named the top prospect in the game by Baseball America earlier this week, will travel to the Mets’ ballpark in Port St. Lucie and is expected to come off the bench for at least one at-bat.

Zuckerman writes that Harper’s “spring training playing time is expected to be minimal” and “he’s unlikely to start any games” before presumably being among the Nationals’ first cuts about two weeks from now. Or as manager Jim Riggleman put it: “I’m hoping that he kind of blends in. I’m not looking for him to excel against major-league pitching.”

Masahiro Tanaka to throw off a mound this weekend

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Earlier this month Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka strained both of his hamstrings while running the bases in an interleague game against the Mets and was sent to the 10-day DL. Today it was announced that the beginning of the end of most DL stints for pitchers — throwing off of a mound — is in Tanaka’s immediate future.

Tanaka is scheduled to throw off a mound Sunday, which will be his first real (well, fake real) pitching action since the June 9th injury. Assuming the session goes well, Tanaka is expected to return to the Yankees’ starting rotation sometime in early-to-mid July. With the All-Star break coming the week of July 16, it would not be hard to imagine the Yankees giving him a few extra days to get right.

Tanaka is 7-2 with a 4.58 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 73/19 in 72.2 innings on the season.