Nationals Minor Leaguer and right-hander Matthew Torra is playing for Team Italy, which opens play on Thursday afternoon against Mexico.
• Davey Johnson, who served as the bench coach for Team USA in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, and managed the team in the 2009 tournament, had this to say about the 2013 edition: "I think the way they've scheduled it this year, it's about 10 times better than it was the last time we played. I remember, we ended up playing eight games in 23 days. The schedule is such that they're starting on the eighth, they're gonna finish up on the 20th. That's great. That makes it better for the players because they're playing, they're not having 4-5 days off. I think they've really improved the format. ... I think what they've done this year, it's gonna keep it a lot stronger, more guys that want to play, and it's got a good future now."
• In the fifth inning, Astros first baseman Brandon Laird singled to left field, rounded first and was nearly nabbed by a Bryce Harper throw behind him back to first base. The play caught first baseman Tyler Moore by surprise, but perhaps not Johnson.
"I was waiting on one," the skipper said, adding that Tony Tarasco had a chat with Harper about it afterward. "You can't keep him bottled up."
• Micah Owings, trying to make the transition from pitcher to position player this spring with the Nats, made his first appearance in left field on Thursday and had a line drive hit to him immediately.
"That was fun," Owings said. "Got my heart pumping a little bit, but that was fun."
A sore left wrist has slowed Owings' spring, but Johnson said he's making every effort to get him some reps.
"I'm just getting him out there, I'm getting him on the field," Johnson said. "I don't have a whole lot of chances to get him playing time. He made the only ball hit to him, so that was good. Right out of the shoot, as soon as he gets out there, they hit one to him. But I'm going to give him some at-bats here and there."