Bryce Harper heads back to D.C. for tests on ailing hip

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From Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post:

Bryce Harper will fly back to Washington on Sunday for further tests on his ailing left hip, which the Nationals fear may be injured more seriously than initially believed.

Harper aggravated his hip taking batting practice 10 minutes before first pitch Saturday night, and the hip pain left him floored in the batting cage adjacent to the Nationals’ clubhouse.

“He didn’t need to tell me anything,” manager Davey Johnson said Saturday. “He was on the ground in the cage after he swung at a pitch. I guess it was about 10 minutes before the game started. I was in a rush to bring a new lineup out there. … We’ve been kind of treating it as a slight hip strain. But obviously, it’s something more serious than that.”

Johnson was asked whether this might be a season-ending injury for Harper and replied, “I don’t know.”

Harper acknowledged last week that he has been playing through pain since April. The 20-year-old outfielder is currently batting .273/.377/.504 with 19 home runs and 49 RBI in 101 games this season.

Mets sign Jose Lobaton to minor league deal

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The Mets signed catcher Jose Lobaton to a minor league contract, the team announced Friday. The deal includes an invitation to spring training, where it’s assumed Lobaton will be in the mix for a backup role behind Travis d'Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki.

Lobaton, 33, is coming off of a four-year stint with the Nationals. He put up his worst career numbers in 2017, producing -0.6 fWAR after slashing just .170/.248/.277 with four home runs in 158 plate appearances. While he’ll give the Mets little to work with at the plate, his near-decade of experience behind the dish should make him a decent emergency option, if nothing else.

In the meantime, the Mets are expected to roll with a d’Arnaud/Plawecki platoon to start the season. Both catchers saw slight upticks in value over the 2017 season: d’Arnaud turned in 0.8 fWAR after hitting a career-high 16 home runs, while Plawecki collected 0.6 fWAR and three homers after raising his batting line over the Mendoza Line for the first time since 2015.