Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is listed at 230 pounds and weighed in just under that at the end of the 2013 season, but his goal going into spring training is to “get as big as a house”, writes Anna McDonald for ESPN’s Sweet Spot. Astros strength and conditioning coach Jake Beiting is behind the approach, saying it’s common among younger players who haven’t finished growing yet. Harper turned 21 years old back in October.
Of the few things Harper hasn’t done in either of the two seasons he’s played at the big league level, it’s slug over .500. He finished at .477 in 2012 and .486 this past season. With a career-high of 22 home runs, it’s also not inconceivable to think he could get to 25 or even 30 home runs. It remains to be seen how much of a sacrifice, if any, he will have to make to his speed and defense with the added weight.
Major League Baseball has announced the umpiring crew for the World Series. John Hirschbeck is the crew chief. It’s his fifth World Series assignment, third as a crew chief.
A surprising name on the crew is Joe West. It’ll be his sixth World Series overall, but first since 2012. There had been chatter for several years that Major League Baseball was making a more concerted effort to get its best umpires into the World Series more often while minimizing the appearances of its weakest umpires. Most assumed West’s absence from the Fall Classic in recent years, despite his seniority, was a function of that. Maybe they’re still making merit a priority and maybe West has just improved? I’ll leave that for you to judge.
Anyway, here is the lineup of umps for Game 1. They will rotate after that, of course. If the series goes six games, Cowboy Joe will be calling the balls and strikes:
Home plate: Larry Vanover
1B: Chris Guccione
2B: John Hirschbeck
3B: Marvin Hudson
LF: Tony Randazzo
RF: Joe West
Replay Official for Games 1-2: Sam Holbrook (with assistance from Todd Tichenor)
Replay Official for Games 3-7: Larry Vanover (with assistance from Todd Tichenor)