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.
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.