Yankees place Phil Hughes on DL with “dead arm” and move Bartolo Colon into rotation

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After watching Phil Hughes post a 13.94 ERA while showing significantly decreased velocity through three starts the Yankees have removed him from the rotation and placed him on the disabled list with what Joe Girardi called “dead arm.”

That sounds bad, but it’s basically another way of saying “fatigue” or “he’s not throwing as hard, but there’s no obvious injury that we can find.” He’ll be replaced in the rotation with Bartolo Colon, who has impressed as a reliever after making the team as a non-roster spring training invitee at age 38.

Hughes’ average fastball clocked in at 92.6 miles per hour last season as he went 18-8 with a 4.19 ERA in a career-high 176 innings, but this year his fastball is down to 89.3 mph and opponents have knocked him around for a .396 batting average and 1.121 OPS.

No one seems quite sure what to make of Hughes’ struggles, including Hughes, so rather than simply skip a turn in the rotation or relegate him to mop-up duties in the bullpen the Yankees have decided to shut him down for at least a couple weeks and presumably give him a lengthy minor-league rehab assignment once he’s deemed ready for game action again.

Meanwhile, this completes a pretty remarkable comeback for Colon, who last started a big-league game for the White Sox on July 27, 2009. At that time he was averaging just 89.1 mph with his fastball, but Colon has upped his velocity to 91.2 mph as a reliever while posting a 13/3 K/BB ratio in 11 innings.

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.