Jedd Gyorko isn’t the only on-fire spring hitter.
Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper — who doesn’t turn 21 years old until October — went 3-for-3 with two doubles Tuesday in the Nationals’ 9-5 Grapefruit League loss to the Braves. Harper is now 6-for-8 (.750) this spring and “taking extra bases at will,” writes Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington.
Harper was supposed to get a routine day off on Wednesday afternoon against the Marlins, but he talked his way into the lineup because both Jayson Werth and Denard Span are playing, and Harper wants to get comfortable with his fellow starters.
“I had him out of the lineup to rest him, and he said: ‘What am I doing out of the lineup? I want in the lineup,'” Nats manager Davey Johnson explained to reporters Tuesday. “I’m already getting it. He’s in.”
Harper batted .270/.340/.477 with 22 home runs, 26 doubles, 18 steals and 59 RBI over his first 139 major league games last season. He carries National League MVP potential into the 2013 campaign.
Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with back soreness. The move is retroactive to April 14. While it doesn’t appear to be the precursor to any serious injury, Zobrist has already missed six straight days of activity after feeling his back tighten up last weekend. Should he see the minimum time on the DL, as expected, he’ll be eligible to return by the start of the Cubs’ series against the Indians on Tuesday.
Prior to his injury, the 36-year-old outfielder raked an impressive .326/.408/.465 with three extra-base hits in 49 plate appearances. He last appeared for the Cubs during their homestand last weekend and helped propel the team to a 14-10 win over the Braves with three hits, two walks and two RBI. Provided that he can remain healthy going forward, it’s a promising start for the veteran outfielder, who has yet to return to the All-Star-worthy numbers he posted with the club in 2016.
With Zobrist sidelined for the time being, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have shared the leadoff spot and center field duties over the last week. Happ went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in two games before passing the baton to Almora, who collected five hits and two RBI in 11 at-bats.