Nationals manager Davey Johnson told reporters at the start of spring training that he was open to the idea of Bryce Harper earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. But it was a longshot from the start, and any hope of it happening has now been crushed.
According to Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington’s Nats Insider, Harper has been optioned to Triple-A Syracuse, where he will begin the 2012 regular season and play primarily in center field.
Harper went 8-for-28 with zero homers, two walks and 11 strikeouts this spring in the Grapefruit League. A calf injury cost him over a week of playing time.
The 19-year-old phenom should debut for the Nationals by the middle of this summer, and could be up as early as June if he gets off to a hot start in April and May in the Triple-A International League.
Veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon was released from his minor league deal with the Rangers on Saturday, MLB.com’s TR Sullivan reports. Despite his strong showing in spring training, Colon wasn’t considered a lock to make the Opening Day rotation. This may not be the end of his time with the team, however — according to multiple reports, the Rangers have expressed their desire to restructure a minor league deal with the right-hander and could work out an arrangement to keep him on as bullpen and Triple-A depth this season.
Colon, 44, is preparing for his 21st year in the majors. He split his 2017 campaign with the Braves and Twins, posting a cumulative 7-14 record in 28 starts and finishing the season with a 6.48 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 5.6 SO/9 in 143 innings. While those numbers were some of the worst he’d seen since 2009, the veteran righty made a compelling case in camp this spring, holding batters to six earned runs, four home runs, two walks and 10 strikeouts in 18 innings.
The Rangers are expected to open the season with a rotation comprised of Cole Hamels, Doug Fister, Matt Moore, Mike Minor and Martin Perez. Perez is working his way back from an elbow injury in his non-throwing arm and is slated to miss his first start of the season, which would provide a brief window of opportunity for Colon when the Rangers hit the road in April.