According to Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com, Nationals manager Davey Johnson just confirmed what most of us already assumed. Bryce Harper, who suffered a right hamstring strain while running the bases in a game with Double-A Harrisburg last night, will likely be shut down for the rest of the season.
“He probably won’t play the rest of the year, as far as I know,” Johnson said. “There’s only a few days left. You take a chance of aggravating it, and it becomes more of a serious injury.”
Of course, saying “shut down for the season” sounds pretty harsh, but missing the final two and a half weeks of the minor league schedule really isn’t a big deal. The Nationals haven’t given an official update on his condition yet, but if they rest him now, there’s still a very good chance he’ll be ready to play in the Arizona Fall League in October. Missing that would be a shame.
Harper, 18, made a mockery of the Sally League to begin the season, batting .318/.423/.554 with 14 home runs and a .977 OPS with Class A Hagerstown, but has looked his age against more advanced competition, batting .256/.329/.395 with three homers and a .724 OPS over 147 plate appearances since being promoted to Double-A Harrisburg in early July. Still, quite a debut for the 2010 No. 1 overall pick.
UPDATE: Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com reports that Harper is being placed on the seven-day disabled list with Double-A Harrisburg. Not ruled out for the rest of the season yet, but it’s still highly unlikely he’ll return.
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.
According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”
Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.