Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was hit twice by Braves pitchers last night, the second of which, thrown by reliever Luis Avilan, garnered a standing ovation from the home crowd in Atlanta. Braves pitchers have been at fault three of the four times Harper has been hit by a pitch this year. Recall that the benches cleared on August 6 when starter Julio Teheran plunked Harper. So there’s definitely some hard feelings at least in one direction.
Harper has been scratched from tonight’s lineup due to a bruise on his left arm sustained from getting hit by Avilan’s fastball, per CSN’s Mark Zuckerman. Zuckerman spoke to manager Davey Johnson, who said he and the clubhouse at large are not happy about the fact that his best player isn’t able to play, but insisted that he hasn’t given his players any instructions to retaliate.
In Harper’s absence, Denard Span will lead off and play center with Scott Hairston in left and Jayson Werth in right.
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.