Washington Nationals v Los Angeles Dodgers

Bryce Harper says no to beer, cortisone shots

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Adam Kilgore has a story about Bryce Harper and the way he takes care of his body. His only apparent vice: ice cream and occasional Starbucks drinks. But otherwise, his body is a temple. That goes for even the occasional beer now that he’s 21. It even goes for certain drugs and treatments that are commonplace and accepted in baseball.

Last year it was suggested that he take cortisone to deal with his knee injury. He didn’t want to and put it off. Eventually he did. But:

Looking back, Harper regrets taking the cortisone. He found the effects fleeting and the risk unworthy. He plans to never use cortisone again.

“I don’t think it really changed me,” Harper said. “I was still hurt. It gave me a boost for a week, where I felt, ‘Hey, I feel good.’ But then a couple days later, it was like, ‘Ack, this sucks.’ I’ll probably never do that again. I don’t like putting that stuff in my body. I don’t want to. I’m just not a big fan of it.”

He says he should have had the surgery he had in the offseason as soon as the injury happened. He goes on to talk about things relating to playing through pain, which sound like they contrast a bit with what you usually hear in baseball about playing through pain (you should do it) vs. playing through injury (you should not).

Obviously you’d rather have a guy erring on the side Harper is erring on — as opposed to erring on the side of excess — when it comes to junk food, drink and performance-enhancing drugs. How many guys aren’t at their best because they’re playing with hangovers or lugging around extra weight? But that Harper’s aim to keep his system pure might come into conflict with the team’s medical advice is potentially troublesome.

 

Max Scherzer still can’t throw fastballs

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals works against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fifth inning during game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park on October 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.

The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.

Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.

The Dodgers asked the Tigers about Justin Verlander this offseason

DETROIT, MI - MAY 18: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches during the first inning of the game against the Minnesota Twins on May 18, 2016 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
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File this under “man, that would’ve been cool.” Or, if you’re a Tigers fan, file it under “man, that would’ve signaled several years of misery.” However you fall on the matter, however, know that, according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers inquired about trading for Justin Verlander over the winter.

It never went anywhere, but it’s not like it was silliness for the Dodgers to ask. As you may recall, the Tigers were reported to be willing to listen to offers on any and all players back in November, as GM Al Avila contemplated a tear-down. That never came to pass — the Tigers had a quiet offseason and are keeping the team together to make another run at the playoffs with the Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core — but it couldn’t hurt to ask.

Verlander, who is coming off a resurgent season which saw him return to form as one of baseball’s best pitchers, has 10-5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade. He’s married to an actress/model, however, owns a home in L.A., and the Dodgers are a clear contender, so there’s a good chance he would’ve allowed such a trade to happen. Heck, dude even loves pitchers batting, so a chance to do it all the time would be right up his alley.

The bigger issue likely would’ve been Verlander’s $28 million salary. The Dodgers already pay the luxury tax so taking on that commitment would cost them more than the sticker price. And, of course, if the Tigers are going to ever give up one of the best players in franchise history, it would take the motherlode of prospects to do it.

So, no, a Verlander-to-L.A. trade wasn’t ever a strong possibility. But even the slight possibility seems exciting in hindsight. It was a boring as hell offseason.