We don’t do a post every time a player launches their first major league home run, but Bryce Harper is not your regular rookie.
Harper connected for his first career home run in the bottom of the third inning tonight as part of an 8-5 win over the Padres. It was a long solo blast off right-hander Tim Stauffer which landed on the grassy batter’s eye in straight-away center field at Nationals Park.
The 19-year-old outfielder sprinted around the bases before being congratulated by teammates and coaches in the dugout, but he eventually came out to give a curtain call to the Nationals’ faithful. We may soon find out if the Padres have a designated enforcer of “old school” on their pitching staff.
Harper hit the home run in his 54th at-bat in the big leagues. If things play out like the Nationals hope, this is just the beginning of him terrorizing major league pitching.
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.