Bryce Harper is back in the Nationals’ lineup this afternoon against the Pirates after missing one game with a mild left hamstring strain. It’s safe to say he’s feeling pretty good.
With one out in the fourth inning, Harper launched a long solo home run off Francisco Liriano to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead. You can watch the video here.
With that blast, the 22-year-old Harper is up to 23 home runs on the year, which gives him a new career-high. He previously hit 22 home runs as a 19-year-old rookie in 2012. If he can stay healthy, he’s going to blow that total away.
Well, here’s a surprise: The Mariners announced this afternoon that they have reassigned hitting coach Howard Johnson and hired seven-time All-Star Edgar Martinez as his replacement. Martinez will be in uniform tonight against the Astros, wearing his familiar No. 11.
The Mariners entered today’s action ranked dead-last in the majors in batting average and 28th in runs scored. This is a function of talent more than anything else, but the front office decided that a new voice was needed. You could do a lot worse than Martinez.
Martinez, a .312 lifetime hitter over 18 seasons with the Mariners, has never coached professionally. However, he has been a guest instructor in spring training in the past and recently started helping hitters at Triple-A Tacoma. Here’s what Martinez told Mike Curto of the Tacoma News Tribune earlier this month:
“I had too much time on my hands,” Martinez said with a laugh. “I always wanted to get back to the game. Right now my family is busy, my wife is working, my kids are all in school and they’re old enough where I can travel more. It’s a good time for me to do it.”
Devin Mesoraco’s bizarre season is finally over, as C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that he will undergo hip surgery on June 29 in New York.
Mesoraco has been dealing with a left hip impingement since early April, but the Reds kept him on the active roster as a bench player through late May even though he wasn’t able to catch. You might recall that early questions about his availability caused Reds manager Bryan Price to go on a profanity-laden rant against the media. Mesoraco recently tried to come back as an outfielder, but felt lingering soreness during a minor league rehab assignment and finally decided to shut things down.
Surgery was going to happen at some point anyway, so with the Reds not looking like a contender, it just makes sense to turn the focus toward getting him ready for 2016. Getting it done now gives him a head start to make that happen.
Tom Koehler is dealing with neck/back issue, so the Marlins have called up prospect left-hander Justin Nicolino to make his major league debut tonight against the Reds.
Acquired in the blockbuster 12-player trade with the Blue Jays in November of 2012, Nicolino was ranked as the organization’s No. 3 prospect by Baseball America over the winter. The 23-year-old had a 2.87 ERA over 13 starts with Triple-A New Orleans this season. He’s known for his good control and ability to induce ground balls, but he has averaged just 6.5 K/9 in the minors.
Koehler told Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald that he expects to be ready for his next turn in the rotation, so Nicolino might only be up for one start. Keep in mind, the Marlins also have Jarred Cosart and Jose Fernandez close to returning from the disabled list.
Phillippe Aumont was designated for assignment by the Phillies this afternoon, less than 24 hours after he walked seven batters in a loss to the Cardinals.
With Cole Hamels sidelined due to a minor right hamstring strain, Aumont was called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to make a spot start last night. It wasn’t pretty. The 26-year-old right-hander gave up six runs and 12 out of the 23 batters he faced reached base. He threw just 56 out of 104 pitches for strikes.
Aumont was acquired from the Mariners in December of 2009 as part of the Cliff Lee deal and some considered him a potential closer at the time, but he has walked 34 batters over 43 2/3 innings during various stints in the majors and has averaged 5.6 BB/9 in the minors.