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.

Nationals do not activate Bryce Harper for Monday’s game

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The Nationals were expected to activate outfielder Bryce Harper from the 10-day disabled list in advance of Monday’s series opener in Philadelphia, but they did not because Harper woke up with flulike symptoms, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports. It doesn’t have anything to do with the knee injury which sent him to the DL last month or the ensuing rehab, he adds.

Rain had fallen in Washington, D.C. on August 12 ahead of the Nationals’ game against the Giants. Harper attempted to beat out a ground out to first base but slipped on the wet first base bag and was later diagnosed with a bone bruise in his left knee.

Harper was in the midst of a great season prior to the injury, perhaps one that would have led to an NL MVP Award. When he comes back, he’ll do what he can to pad his .326/.419/.614 slash line along with 29 home runs, 87 RBI, and 92 runs scored in 472 plate appearances. The Nationals are just concerned with getting him back in the flow of things in time for the playoffs. They have seven games remaining in the regular season.

Chris Archer on joining Bruce Maxwell’s protest: “I don’t think it would be the best thing to do for me at this time.”

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Rays pitcher Chris Archer doesn’t see himself joining Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell‘s protest any time soon, Gabe Lacques of USA TODAY Sports reports. Archer said, “From the feedback that I’ve gotten from my teammates, I don’t think it would be the best thing to do for me, at this time. I agree with the message. I believe in equality.”

Archer continued, “I don’t want to offend anybody. No matter how you explain it or justify it, some people just can’t get past the military element of it and it’s not something I want to do, is ruffle my teammates’ feathers on my personal views that have nothing to do with baseball.”

Archer did express admiration for the way Maxwell handled his situation. The right-hander said, “The way he went about it was totally, I think, as respectful as possible, just letting everybody know that this doesn’t have anything to do with the military, first and foremost, noting that he has family members that are in the military. It’s a little bit tougher for baseball players to make that leap, but I think he was the right person to do it.”

Maxwell recently became the first baseball player to kneel as the national anthem was sung, a method of protest popularized by quarterback Colin Kaepernick. As Craig explained yesterday, baseball’s hierarchical culture has proven to be a strong deterrent for players to express their unpopular opinions. We can certainly see that in Archer’s justification. Archer was one of 62 African Americans on the Opening Day roster across 30 major league clubs (750 total players, 8.3%).