Cliff Lee brushes off the fan spitting stuff

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I continue to maintain that the “fans spit on Kristen Lee” thing is being blown way out of proportion. If you’re going to take anything from her comments it’s not that, which was a brief, one-sentence aside. It’s the several things she had to say about liking Dallas, wanting to be close to Arkansas and her and her husband’s smaller town temperament. For his part, Cliff Lee is blowing it off too:

“I brush that off as fans being fans. You can’t control 50,000 people and what they’re going to do. There were some people that were spitting off the balcony on the family section and things like that, and that’s kind of weak, but what can you do? No, I don’t know the guy that did it. It could be anyone. Who knows? Who cares? They’re at home right now.”

And, quite predictably and quite understandably, Cliff Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker — who certainly doesn’t want the Yankees or any other team to shy away from his client — says that the Kristen Lee stuff will have no bearing whatsoever on where Lee ends up signing:

“The story is not an issue to us. Her experience in New York is certainly a non-issue. She enjoys New York as much as anyone enjoys New York.”

“As much as anyone enjoys New York?” Wow, I had no idea it was that bad.

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.