Bryce Harper struggling since promotion to Double-A


Bryce Harper is struggling at baseball for what might be the first time in his life.

Promoted from low Single-A to Double-A last week, the former No. 1 overall pick has gone just 6-for-35 (.171) with zero extra-base hits through 10 games against Eastern League pitching.

He’s an 18-year-old in a league where the average player is 24 and skipped high Single-A altogether, so perhaps the struggles shouldn’t be surprising, but it does show any Nationals fans who wanted Harper in Washington already that baseball is really, really hard.

On the fast track since signing with the Nationals, he skipped rookie-ball and earned a quick promotion by hitting .318 with a .977 OPS in 72 games at low Single-A. He’ll get on track at Double-A soon enough and 10 bad games does nothing to alter Harper’s long-term outlook, but whatever slim odds he had of reaching the majors in his first pro season have diminished even further.

And that’s not such a bad thing. Mike Trout made headlines earlier this month for debuting with the Angels at age 19 and he’s 14 months older than Harper. There’s plenty of time and plenty more regrettable tattoos to get before arriving in Washington.

Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for Red Sox

Bob Levey/Getty Images

No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.

Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.

Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.