After spending a couple weeks in big-league camp Bryce Harper was optioned to high Single-A Hagerstown, where each of his at-bats will apparently be sponsored by “Miss Utility,” which is a service for construction workers to contact for information before digging into underground utility mains.
Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post passes along the press release announcing the sponsorship:
Prior to each of Harper’s at-bats, the Hagerstown Suns will announce, “Now batting, Bryce Harper, brought to you by Miss Utility, reminding you to call 811 before you dig.” They jumped at the opportunity to be connected with the top prospect in Major League Baseball, knowing that the window of opportunity as a nonprofit to be associated with an athlete of this caliber is very limited.
I’ll bet Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, isn’t quite as excited about his client’s new partnership, although “Miss Utility” is a non-profit organization.
Free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez signed a deal with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican Baseball League earlier this week, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday. The righty wasn’t necessarily too fringey a player to hack it in the big leagues, but there were no MLB takers in attendance during his showcase in Venezuela last month and he clearly felt it best to try his luck elsewhere.
The 27-year-old’s last major league gig came with the Phillies, for whom he delivered a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 BB/9 and 3.7 SO/9 over 14 2/3 innings in 2017. While he’s not too far removed from his first and only All-Star bid in 2014, he was besieged by shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016 and underwent season-ending surgeries as a result.
That added injury risk, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 22 innings in a single season since 2014, may have been too much for major league teams to take on this spring. Assuming he steers clear of further injuries, however, a return to the majors may not be entirely out of the question in years to come.