Bryce Harper’s bid to make the Nationals at the tender age of 19 could be derailed by a calf injury that will sideline him for “at least three days,” manager Davey Johnson said Friday.
Harper woke up with tightness in his left calf Thursday and was scratched from the day’s lineup. He missed a second game Friday.
The Nationals have indicated they’re open to putting Jayson Werth in center field to make room for Harper in right, and Harper was making an early case for the job with hits in his first four appearances of the spring. He was 5-for-11 with a walk and two strikeouts before going down.
If Harper ends up missing a week or more, that’d probably be enough to see to it that he begins the season in the minors. The Nationals have financial incentive for going that route anyway.
The Diamondbacks announced on Monday that the club signed catcher Jeff Mathis to a two-year, $4 million contract.
Mathis, 33, isn’t much with the stick as he owns a career .197/.254/.308 triple-slash line over parts of 12 seasons in the majors. The veteran, though, is well-regarded for his ability to play defense, call games, handle a pitching staff, and get along with his teammates in the clubhouse. As Craig mentioned last year, Mathis is often talked about as a future manager.
The D-Backs non-tendered Welington Castillo on Friday, so Chris Herrmann and Mathis are the team’s two catchers as presently constructed.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins wants to continue playing in 2017.
Rollins, 38, signed a minor league deal with the White Sox for the 2016 season but hit a disappointing .221/.295/.329 over 166 plate appearances. The club released Rollins in the middle of June and he did not sign with a new team. He did join TBS as part of their playoff coverage.
Rollins is almost certainly looking at another minor league contract and will have to earn his way onto a major league roster by performing well in spring training.