Nationals option Bryce Harper to Triple-A Syracuse

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Nationals manager Davey Johnson told reporters at the start of spring training that he was open to the idea of Bryce Harper earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. But it was a longshot from the start, and any hope of it happening has now been crushed.

According to Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington’s Nats Insider, Harper has been optioned to Triple-A Syracuse, where he will begin the 2012 regular season and play primarily in center field.

Harper went 8-for-28 with zero homers, two walks and 11 strikeouts this spring in the Grapefruit League. A calf injury cost him over a week of playing time.

The 19-year-old phenom should debut for the Nationals by the middle of this summer, and could be up as early as June if he gets off to a hot start in April and May in the Triple-A International League.