Nats, Red Sox to play at Naval Academy

The Washington Nationals have added a twist to the end of their exhibition season.

On April 1, they will play the Boston Red Sox at the Naval Academy. In the past, Washington had finished spring training with weekend games at Nationals Park following the team’s return from Florida. This season, they will play on Friday, March 31, against the Red Sox in Nationals Park, then play Saturday in Annapolis as part of a 3-year agreement to put on exhibition games there.

Tickets for the game at the Naval Academy are not available to the public. The Nationals and Red Sox will distribute complimentary tickets to Naval Academy midshipmen, as well as select members of the US Navy. The game will be televised on ESPN at 2 pm.

“It will be an honor for our players and coaches to take part in these games at the Naval Academy, in front of the brave men and women who have committed to serve our country,” Nationals owner Mark Lerner said.

The game will be played at Terwilliger Brothers Field at Max Bishop Stadium, where the Naval Academy baseball team plays. The setting is intimate and suggestive that offense will carry the day. Capacity at the stadium named for the longtime Navy coach — Bishop ran the team from 1937-61 — is just 1,500. Nationals Park holds 41,546. Even the Nationals’ new spring training stadium, The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, has 6,400 fixed seats.

The depth of the outfield fences at Max Bishop Stadium, from left to right are 322 feet, 382, 397, 372 and 304. At Nationals Park those dimensions are 336, 377, 402, 370 and 335.

The Nationals’ opponent for the games in 2018 and 2019 at the Naval Academy will be determined at a future date.

Playing at Max Bishop Stadium will be the second new field Washington will play on during spring training this year. Pitcher and catchers report Feb. 14 to the Nationals’ new spring training facility in West Palm Beach, Florida. After leaving its complex in Viera, Fla., Washington will share the new facility with the Houston Astros. The location allows the Nationals to have much shorter road trips around Florida when playing Grapefruit League games. Several trips in the past were bus rides that took more than an hour.

The first pitchers and catchers workout is Feb. 16. The entire squad is expected in West Palm Beach by Feb. 17. Washington opens spring training in Port St. Lucie, Fla., against the rival New York Mets on Feb. 25. It concludes spring training in Florida on March 30. The season opener is April 3 at 1 p.m. versus the Miami Marlins in Nationals Park.- The Washington Times