Bryce Harper missed all of June with bursitis in his left knee and required treatment for the joint earlier this week. Now the situation has worsened further.
According to Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington, Harper is not in the Nationals’ starting lineup for Game 2 of Friday’s day-night doubleheader with the Mets because he aggravated his left knee while diving for a ball in the outfield in Game 1. It wasn’t a serious aggravation, but it’s worrisome nonetheless for a Washington team that carries a disappointing 49-54 record into the nightcap at Nationals Park.
Steve Lombardozzi will start in left field and bat seventh.
Harper is hitting .271/.373/.520 with 14 home runs and 31 RBI in 65 games this season. The 20-year-old phenom slugged a walkoff home run in the Nats’ 9-7 win over the Pirates on Thursday afternoon.
The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.
Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.
Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.