- - Thursday, February 22, 2018

Several left-handers in camp with the Washington Nationals have some interesting stories. The competition will begin in earnest when Washington begins spring training play Friday against the Houston Astros, the defending world champions.

One of those lefties is Bryan Harper, the older brother of Washington All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper.

The elder Harper has never pitched in the majors but has made steady progress through the Washington minor league system.

Lefties who have thrown out of the bullpen in the majors for the Nationals who are in camp include Matt Grace, Sammy Solis and Enny Romero. The closer for Washington is Sean Doolittle, a lefty from the University of Virginia.

The elder Harper is a non-roster invitee to spring training, and so is fellow lefty Tim Collins.

Collins is the longest of long shots  a 5-foot-7 lefty who grew up in cold-weather Worcester, Massachusetts, and wasn’t drafted, yet still made it to the majors with the Kansas City Royals in 2011.

He pitched for the Royals through 2014 but then didn’t play in 2015 and 2016 after a pair of Tommy John surgeries.

Collins pitched in 18 minor league games at three different levels last year for the Nationals.

“Baseball is about challenges. I welcome that with open arms. I like a challenge,” Collins said. “Baseball is a game but it is also a lot of business decisions. I am in a good spot to compete for a job. Hopefully, it doesn’t come down to a business decision. There is a good competition in here as far as lefties go.”

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