Bryce Harper finally admitted to having a hip injury yesterday, so manager Davey Johnson gave him the game off, and the Nationals outfielder also admitted to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com that he’s been playing hurt since slamming into the outfield wall in Atlanta in late April:
Ever since I hit the wall, pretty much every day I feel something different. Or something will feel better, and then something else hurts. It’s pretty much just the left side of my body. That’s what hurts me right now. … But the last time I probably felt pretty good was that first month.
At the time of the collision Harper was hitting .344 with a 1.150 OPS in 26 games. Since the collision Harper has hit .250 with a .792 OPS in 74 games. Obviously he was likely to come back to earth after posting a 1.150 OPS in April whether he was injured or healthy, but Harper’s production since the calendar flipped to May has actually been worse than his rookie numbers and within that time frame he also missed more than a month with another injury caused by an outfield wall collision in Los Angeles.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.