Daniel Bard strikes out seven in final rotation audition

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Daniel Bard, Alfredo Aceves and Felix Doubront didn’t do much to make the Red Sox’s decision for them in their final bids for the two openings in the rotation.

Bard followed the solid outings by Aceves and Doubront yesterday with six innings of three-run ball against the Twins on Friday. A Justin Morneau double was the only extra-base hit he allowed, and he struck out seven and walked three on his way to a win.

It figures to be Bard’s final official outing of the spring, barring a move to send him to the pen and have him make a relief appearance early next week. He went 2-2 with a 6.57 ERA and an 18/16 K/BB ratio in 24 2/3 innings.

Aceves and Doubront both outpitched Bard, who was the clear favorite for the fourth spot going into the spring. Aceves had a 5.50 ERA, but nine of the 11 earned runs he allowed came in one outing and he was very good in the other four. Doubront had a 2.70 ERA in 16 2/3 innings.

The guess is that Doubront will be the fifth starter, since he wouldn’t be the same kind of weapon out of the pen than Bard or Aceves would be. Bard still appears to be the favorite for the fourth spot, if only by default. One thing working in his favor: it’s doubtful the Red Sox would consider returning him to the rotation later after starting him in the pen. Aceves, on the other hand, is versatile enough to go back and forth if needed.

Reds acquire Darnell Sweeney from the Dodgers

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The Reds acquired utilityman Darnell Sweeney from the Dodgers in exchange for cash considerations, J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group reports.

This is the second time that the Dodgers have traded Sweeney. The club sent him to the Phillies along with John Richy in August 2015 for Chase Utley. The Phillies sent him back to the Dodgers this past offseason with Darin Ruf in exchange for Howie Kendrick.

Sweeney, 26, made his major league debut in 2015 with the Phillies, hitting a meager .176/.286/.353 in 98 plate appearances. With Triple-A Oklahoma City this season, he hit .227/.290/.412 in 131 PA. While Sweeney’s bat hasn’t proven to be anything special, he has played second base, third base, shortstop, and all three outfield positions, so his flexibility will make him useful at some point.

Bryce Harper to Little League players: “No participation trophies, first place only”

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Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.

“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”

The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.

Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.