Nationals manager Davey Johnson advised Bryce Harper to stay home rather than make the trip to Port St. Lucie for this afternoon’s Grapefruit League game against the New York Mets. So, the star left fielder nursing a swollen left thumb stayed behind.
More from Johnson, via MLB.com’s Joey Nowak:
“I took him out after two at-bats, though I couldn’t believe that ball jammed him. It was a bullet to right,” Johnson said. “But he’s been getting a lot of reps, a lot of ABs. I was gonna bring him today because I like to watch him play. When I took him out yesterday, it was on my mind not to have him come here. I didn’t re-adjust that after I took him out. The trainers didn’t talk to me about it, and I forgot about it. But when I saw [his thumb] this morning, I said, ‘You’re not going.’ I scratched him.”
Harper has been having a great spring, currently riding a .400 average, three homers, and a team-best 12 RBI in 55 at-bats. Last season, he posted the fourth-best adjusted OPS (119) in baseball history by a player under the age of 20, trailing only Mel Ott (139), Ty Cobb (132), and Sherry Magee (122).
You may recall that, back in May, Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor got into a fight with Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. Bautista slid late into second base, with which Odor took issue, so he punched Bautista in the face. That earned him a seven-game suspension.
With one out in the fifth inning of Thursday’s game against the Indians, Odor reached on a fielding error by first baseman Mike Napoli. Jonathan Lucroy then hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play. Odor slid hard into Jason Kipnis covering second base.
Kipnis, hearkening back to the Bautista fight, backed up as if he were afraid Odor would punch him. Odor got a good chuckle out of it, but it was the Rangers’ bench which perhaps enjoyed the joke most. The Rangers’ broadcast showing Adrian Beltre cracking up and telling his other teammates what had happened.
Rangers outfielder Carlos Gomez made his debut with his new team on Thursday night after a brief stint with Triple-A Round Rock. He started in left field and was inserted into the number eight spot in the Rangers’ batting order.
The Rangers made two quick outs in the bottom of the second inning, with Adrian Beltre grounding out and Rougned Odor striking out. But the inning was kept alive as Jonathan Lucroy singled and advanced to second base on a wild pitch, and then Mitch Moreland walked to bring up Gomez.
Gomez took a first-pitch cutter from Josh Tomlin for a ball, then jumped on another cut fastball, drilling it for a no-doubt three-run home run into the seats in left field at Globe Life Park in Arlington (#29 out of 30 in Craig’s ballpark name rankings).
Here’s the video.