The Braves enjoyed a messy fifth inning against the Nationals

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Everyone expects spring training games to be messy, especially early. Players are just getting back into the swing of things. Some younger guys have the pressure of playing with the big boys for the first time, or are competing for a roster spot; older guys are doing everything they can to keep their careers alive. You can see a lot of crazy things in spring training.

Saturday afternoon’s affair between the Braves and Nationals brought messy to a whole new level. The game featured seven multi-run innings, including four of four runs or more. Six errors were committed, five by the Nationals. 15 pitchers were used.

The fifth inning in particular stood out because of everything that happened. MASN’s Dan Kolko captured it all in one picture, which he posted to Twitter:

First of all, the Nationals substitutions at all eight non-pitcher positions, which really cluttered up the page. Then Freddie Freeman reached on a fielding error. Later, when Matt Lipka singled to right, Michael Taylor both missed the ball and made a throwing error, leading to the Braves’ third and fourth runs of the inning. The Nationals replaced pitcher Blake Treinen with Josh Roenicke. The Braves pinch-hit four times and finished the fifth inning with nine runs on ten hits, including eight singles.

Shockingly enough, the nine-spot wasn’t enough as the Braves lost 16-15. The Braves logged 25 hits. Spring training, everyone.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.