Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper smacks RBI single in first pro plate appearance

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For Nationals prospect Bryce Harper, adversity has not been a common life theme.

The Las Vegas native was drafted first overall in last summer’s MLB Amateur Draft at the age of 17 and inked a seven-year, $9.9 million major league contract in August. Then this winter, without an ounce of professional experience to his name, Harper was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the entire game by Baseball America.

Harper is going to hit speed bumps. He’s human, he’s incredibly young, and baseball isn’t an easy sport for anyone. But that theme of everything-gone-right continued on Thursday evening for the youngster.

According to the Associated Press, via NBCSports.com, Harper went 2-for-4 with an RBI tonight in his debut for Single-A Hagerstown. It was his first game of professional ball.

He smacked a run-scoring single to shallow center field in his first pro plate appearance and then bunted his way on in his next at-bat. Harper was retired in his final two looks but Hagerstown pulled out a 3-2 victory.

The 18-year-old should have no trouble posting massive numbers at the low level of minor league baseball. If things go right, he could be in consideration for a big league roster spot by the summer of 2012.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.