Andy Pettitte exits start with tight left trapezius muscle

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UPDATE: The Yankees just announced that Andy Pettitte left tonight’s start with a tight left trapezius muscle. That’s the upper back and neck area. It’s not clear whether he’ll need to miss any time.

9:24 PM: Here’s a potentially troubling development for the first-place Yankees.

According to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, Andy Pettitte left tonight’s start against the Mariners in the fifth inning with an apparent injury. The veteran southpaw appeared to be in some discomfort after he struck out Jason Bay and Kyle Seager to begin the frame. He was pulled from the ballgame after being visited by Yankees manager Joe Girardi and a team trainer.

No word yet on the exact nature of the injury, but it’s worth noting that Pettitte was skipped from a start last month due to back spasms.

Pettitte allowed two runs on four hits and three walks over 4 2/3 innings before exiting. The 40-year-old has a 3.83 ERA and 39/15 K/BB ratio in 49 1/3 innings over eight starts this season.

The Nationals expect Bryce Harper to test free agency

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Earlier this week at the Winter Meetings, Scott Boras said that he and the Washington Nationals had had preliminary discussions about a contract extension for Bryce Harper. Harper, of course, can become a free agent following the 2018 season and is widely expected to command the largest contract in baseball history.

While that may have given some Nationals fans hope that no other team would get the chance to bid on him, the Nationals are of the view that they have no shot to sign Harper before he at least tests the free agent market. From USA Today’s Bob Nightengale:

A lot of this seems like mutual posturing, doesn’t it? Boras trying to make it appear as though the he and Harper are giving the Nats a fair hearing and the Nats trying to make it appear as though, no matter what they do, Harper is going to hit the market. I tend to believe, personally, that Boras and Harper are hellbent on testing the market, but it’s possible that there is some number that the Nats can offer to head that off, right? Maybe?

Either way: big year ahead for Harper.