Catching up with Bryce Harper

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Bryce Harper cover small.jpgPhenom Bryce Harper has been on a parental-imposed media blackout for much of the winter. He emerges a bit today with a profile in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.  It’s a good read if for no other reason than it reminds you that Harper is painfully, painfully young to be going through what he’s been going through since that Sports Illustrated cover hit last summer:

“I had a transition from high
school to college, and it was pretty hard at the beginning. I was
second-guessing myself and thinking maybe I shouldn’t have done this,”
Harper said Tuesday.

“There were times when I was in my room or with my family or
something, and it was pretty hard because everybody was out there
saying stuff. I can’t live up to all the hype and everything like that.”

Harper, an honor student in high school, earned his GED test
credentials and was excelling at CSN while recording a 4.0 grade-point
average. But he was failing for the first time in baseball, compiling
too many 0-for-4 days at practice and striking out when he was
accustomed to hitting home runs.

“It really hurt me, and I was thinking maybe this isn’t for me,” he said, pausing. “But I put that aside.”

He’s doing better now, settling into a groove and leading his JC team in homers and RBIs. A JC team that is ranked number one in the nation.  Oh, and he has a hilarious sense of humor too:

Harper, being advised by agent
Scott Boras, said it’s not a foregone conclusion that he will enter
June’s major league draft, which could net him a signing bonus in the
neighborhood of $10 million.

Sure it isn’t a foregone conclusion. His parents didn’t rob him of two years of high school and cram him into junior college because they wanted to circumvent the draft rules for high schoolers. They were simply worried he couldn’t get a prom date if he stayed in high school. That’s the ticket.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.