Bryce Harper on facing Livan Hernandez: “It sucks”

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Livan Hernandez got the best of Bryce Harper in their first matchup last night, as the 19-year-old rookie swung wildly at an incredibly slow curveball from the 37-year-old veteran and whiffed.

Harper’s eyes lit up when he saw the 65-mph pitch coming to the plate and you could tell he wanted to hit it approximately 1,000 feet. And when he got another chance later in the game, he did.

In their second matchup Hernandez tried to throw a 78-mph slider past Harper and it ended up deep in the right field seats for the phenom’s fourth career homer.

After the Nationals victory Harper shared his thought process for facing Hernandez with Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post:

I was just looking for something I could drive. Livo throws really slow. You’re going to have wait back and try to get something up that you can drive out of the park or drive up the middle or the left side. He left something up, and I got it.

And when asked about facing Hernandez in general, Harper amusingly replied:

It sucks. I don’t like facing guys like that. I’d rather face a hard lefty or something like that. I don’t like facing slow guys. It’s not very fun.

And yet with the homer Harper is now hitting .287 with a .376 on-base percentage and .525 slugging percentage through 27 games at age 19, including four homers and 13 total extra-base hits in 101 at-bats. To say he’s living up to the incredible hype would be an understatement.

Jered Weaver dealing with “dead arm”

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Padres starter Jered Weaver lasted just two-thirds of an inning in Wednesday afternoon’s Cactus League appearance against the Royals. He yielded four runs on three hits, throwing 31 pitches before getting pulled. His spring ERA now sits at an ugly 10.13.

Weaver said he’s been dealing with a “dead arm” since his last bullpen session, but added he’s dealt with the issue in previous springs, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

The Padres signed Weaver to a one-year, $3 million contract last month. The right-hander is coming off of the worst season of his 11-year career. His fastball averaged a career-low 83 MPH and he put up a 5.06 ERA with a 103/51 K/BB ratio in 178 innings.

Ian Kinsler doesn’t think Puerto Rico or Dominican Republic players play the game the right way

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Update: Whoops…

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Earlier, Craig wrote about Dan Duquette’s dogwhistle language in his criticism of Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. We have some more dogwhistling, this time coming from Tigers (and Team U.S.) second baseman Ian Kinsler. Via Billy Witz of The New York Times:

I hope kids watching the W.B.C. can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican plays. That’s not taking anything away from them. That just wasn’t the way we were raised. They were raised differently and to show emotion and passion when you play. We do show emotion; we do show passion. But we just do it in a different way.

The goal of the World Baseball Classic, created by Major League Baseball, is to promote baseball across the globe. It’s players like Puerto Rico’s Javier Baez who are doing the best job in that regard, not boring white guys from the U.S. Potential baseball fans are not swayed into liking the sport when a player hits a home run and solemnly puts his head down to stroll the bases. They get excited and energized when players show emotion, flip their bats, celebrate. Baez did more to make baseball appeal to new and lapsed audiences with his premature celebration tag than the entire U.S. team has done this tournament.

Furthermore, it is hypocritical to want to diversify the sport’s audience while squelching incoming cultures.

Jim Leyland also got in on the action:

Go Puerto Rico.