Tony La Russa and Colby Rasmus both deny reported "rift"

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Colby Rasmus was back in the Cardinals’ lineup yesterday for the first time in two weeks, and after the game the 24-year-old center fielder and manager Tony La Russa denied the reported “rift” between them.
Rasmus said: “From my side, me and Tony, we’re on good terms.”
However, in downplaying their “issues” that have been reported extensively this month La Russa admitted that the two “had a heated exchange earlier this season” and still took a few jabs at Rasmus:

There is no issue. I feel like he’s got a chance to be a really good player. He’s young. He’s learning. Even while he’s been inconsistent, he’s still a good player. Colby believes he needs to hit for power to make a mark. I stress to him if he can hit .300, he’ll help us a lot more than that. In that .300, there will be home runs. But there will also be going first to third, stealing bases, using his legs. He’s young. In the back of his mind, he knows if he catches one, it’s going.

Keep in mind that earlier this week St. Louis Post Dispatch beat reporter Joe Strauss speculated that “either La Russa or Rasmus is gone from St. Louis before the 2011 season” and columnist Bernie Miklasz opined that the La Russa-Rasmus situation “is very strange and it must end.”
Perhaps the whole thing has been overblown or perhaps La Russa and Rasmus are simply trying to play nice for the rest of the season, with La Russa struggling to do so without still taking the young player down a few notches in the media. Either way, outwardly at least Rasmus is saying all the right things and at 24 years old he’s been one of the best all-around center fielders in baseball, so I tend to think he’s a bigger part of the Cardinals’ future than La Russa.

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.