But he added, “It’s all good, though.”
Bruce Harper is expected back in Washington’s lineup on Wednesday after missing six days with a calf injury, but he thinks it’s already too late for him to win a spot on the Opening Day roster.
“Probably not,” he answered when asked if he thinks he still has a chance to go north with the team.
The 19-year-old Harper was 5-for-11 before hurting his calf last week. Still, as talented as he is, his Double-A numbers last year didn’t really suggest that he was ready for the challenge of the majors at such a young age. Besides, there’s strong financial incentive for the Nationals to send him down for a month or two.
The Nationals appear likely to let Rick Ankiel and Roger Bernadina continue to battle it out for playing time in center field into the regular season. Jayson Werth is expected to eventually move to center for Harper, but he’ll continue to play right field for now.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.