Brian Roberts, Mike Gonzalez not close to rejoining Orioles

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New Orioles manager Juan Samuel delivered some more bad news Tuesday when he made it clear that neither Brian Roberts nor Mike Gonzalez were ready to help the team with the game’s worst record.
Roberts appeared on pace for a mid-June return before contracting pneumonia last month. That setback, though, may prove mild to the one he suffered last week. Roberts’ back is again bothering him, though the Orioles are hoping it’s not related to the herniated disc that has kept him on the shelf since April 10.
Roberts was reexamined Tuesday and is due for more tests this week before the Orioles update his condition. Samuel indicated that there’s no longer any timetable for his return. Speculation that he may need season-ending surgery will only increase until the Orioles release something definitive.
Gonzalez, who was also aiming for a mid-June return from a left shoulder strain, threw in the mid-80s during a simulated inning Tuesday. Instead of rebuilding arm strength, he’s actually lost velocity since he resumed throwing.
The lone good news is that Alfredo Simon, who was filling in for Gonzalez in the closer’s role before suffering a strained hamstring last month, is making steady progress and might return next week.

Bryce Harper will not be discussing his impending free agency with the media

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Bryce Harper is entering his walk year and it is widely expected that the Scott Boras client will, indeed, test out free agency next fall rather than engage in any substantial way with the Washington Nationals about a contract extension. There were some “casual conversations” between the parties in the early fall of 2017, but the Nats came away from that, quite reasonably, believing that Harper, who stands to land the largest contract in baseball history, will shop around.

For his part, Harper met the media on his first day of spring training workouts and let everyone know that, no, he does not plan to answer questions about his potential free agency every day between now and November. From MASN:

“Just want to let you guys know I will not be discussing anything relative to 2019, at all,” said Harper. “I’m focused on this year. I’m focused on winning and playing hard, like every single year. So if you guys have any questions about anything after 2018, you can call Scott and he can answer you guys.”

Makes sense. The alternative would be for Harper to give the same canned “I’m only focused on our next game” responses in front of his locker 150 times this summer, and that doesn’t serve anyone.

Thinking back to any other impending free agent’s comments about his free agency, I can’t remember a story along those lines which was worth much of anything. The genre generally consists of headlines which oversell an innocuous or offhand comment from a player as a means of guessing where his head is at with respect to his current team. I can’t think of any story in which a player, during his walk year, said something that concretely and definitively signaled his intensions in free agency one way or the other.

Reporters covering the Nationals who are curious as to how Harper feels about his current team at any given time would be better served just observing and inferring, with particular attention paid to how Harper and his teammates view the Nats’ competitive position as the season goes on, how they react to trades and stuff like that. There’s a lot of guesswork in all of that, but it sure beats trying to get a media savvy player like Harper to admit, after going 1-for-4 against the Phillies, where he plans to spend the next seven to ten years of his professional life.