Bryce Harper apparently didn’t feel right during batting practice on Tuesday evening at Nationals Park, so he shaved clean before first pitch and then launched a solo home run in the bottom of the third inning to push the Nats ahead of the Braves 1-0, but Atlanta won 2-1 for a season-high 12th straight win.
Here, via Getty Images, is a photo of Harper and his growing beard from a couple weeks ago:
And here’s the replay of Harper going deep to dead center. Notice the lengthy initial trot:
Harper was hit in the thigh by Braves pitcher Julio Teheran on the first pitch of his next at-bat. He pointed toward Teheran and the benches cleared, but no punches were thrown. Busy night for the 20-year-old.
The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.
Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.
Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.
Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.
Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.