Phillies won't ask for three from Lee; turn to Blanton in Game 4

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Manager Charlie Manuel announced Friday that Joe Blanton would start Game 4 for the Phillies on Sunday, essentially setting his rotation for the rest of October.
The guess going in was that the Phillies would try to get away with using Cliff Lee in Games 1, 4 and 7. Blanton still figured to start Game 5 in that arrangement, since the team wouldn’t want to use both Pedro Martinez and Cole Hamels on short rest.
But no one in red will start on short rest now. After Lee pitches in Game 5, it’s safe to assume that the Phillies will go back to Martinez in Game 6 and Hamels in Game 7 on normal rest.
Since the Phillies have bared their hand, we’ll have to wait and see if the Yankees follow suit. The assumption was that the Yankees were leaning towards pitching CC Sabathia on short rest in Game 4 and going to Chad Gaudin in Game 5, with A.J. Burnett following on regular rest in Game 6.
The Yankees could back down now and choose the same cautious route that the Phillies have selected. That would involve starting Gaudin in Game 4 and following with Sabathia, Burnett and Andy Pettitte, all on normal rest.

Bryce Harper to Little League players: “No participation trophies, first place only”

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Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.

“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”

The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.

Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.

Indians to move Danny Salazar to the bullpen

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MLB.com’s William Kosileski reports that Indians starter Danny Salazar is being moved to the bullpen and will be available as soon as Wednesday or Thursday. The Indians will go on a five-game road strip starting on June 2, and manager Terry Francona said that Salazar could get a start during that trip.

Salazar, 27, has struggled to a 5.50 ERA over his first 10 starts this season. While none of those starts were absolute disasters, he failed to finish the sixth inning in seven of those 10 starts. It’s a far cry from his performance over the last two seasons, when he finished with a 3.45 ERA and 3.87 ERA.

Salazar’s walk rate is up to a career-high 11.9 percent, per FanGraphs, and he’s allowing many more line drives at the expense of ground balls. Compared to 2016, his line drive rate is up 8.9 percent and his ground ball rate is down 10.4 percent. All of that could explain Salazar’s struggles to some extent.