Bryce Harper departs game with bruised left side

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Bryce Harper was pulled from Wednesday night’s game against the Braves in the sixth inning after grimacing while trying to check his swing.

Harper crashed into the right field wall on Tuesday at Turner Field during a home run-robbing attempt. He may have injured himself on that play and then aggravated the injury on Wednesday evening.

Harper is batting .337/.427/.705 with nine home runs and 18 RBI in 27 games this season. He joins a list of injured Nats stars that includes Jayson Werth (ankle) and Ryan Zimmerman (hamstring). Werth is active but considered day-to-day. Zimmerman is expected to return from the 15-day disabled list this week.

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UPDATE, 9:53 PM ET: According to James Wagner of the Washington Post, manager Davey Johnson told reporters that Harper’s exit was indeed related to Tuesday’s catch attempt. Harper has a bad bruise on his left side. He was given some pain medication and is currently considered day-to-day.

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By the way, Harper is in a new commercial for GEICO auto insurance. It doesn’t involve a talking lizard or a caveman, but it’s plenty stupid in its own right …

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.