Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper underwent surgery in October to debride and repair the bursa sac in his left knee, but he told Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com at NatsFest today that it “feels great” and he began sprinting about three weeks ago.
Harper was banged up following collisions with the outfield wall in April and May last year, but he admitted today that he was actually hurting even earlier. While he played through the pain for most of the season, he said his big takeaway from 2013 is that he’ll “probably never do that again.” The young phenom won’t say for sure if he’ll be 100 percent for the start of spring training, but there should still be plenty of time for him to get ready for the season even if the Nationals ease him into things.
Harper, 21, hit .274/.368/.486 with 20 home runs, 58 RBI, and 11 stolen bases in 118 games last 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.