Opening Day: Nationals start 2019 season with loss to Mets

Post-Bryce life officially begins for the Washington Nationals.

He's no longer in the outfield. He's no longer in the heart of the lineup. He's no longer in the clubhouse.

Until this opening day, Bryce Harper was a key component for the Nationals for seven years, making six All-Star teams, winning 2012 NL Rookie of the Year and 2015 NL MVP honors.

Now he's with the Philadelphia Phillies, leaving as a free agent for a $330 million contract.

So on Thursday, it was 21-year-old rookie Victor Robles starting in center field against the New York Mets, not Harper. And 20-year-old Juan Soto, last year's runner-up for NL Rookie of the Year, batting cleanup. And veteran utilityman Howie Kendrick's No. 47 uniform hanging at the locker that had been home to Harper's familiar No. 34.

Kendrick, as it happens, was not at Nationals Park, either, though. He's starting the season on the injured list.

Nationals Park was sold out to see the two Cy Young award-winning pitchers duel it out Thursday.

The game was a classic pitchers duel, but the Mets took the game with a final of 2 - 0.

-- Howard Fendrich reporting from Washington.