D.J. Short

Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton could begin a minor league rehab assignment next week

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Josh Hamilton’s return to the Rangers lasted just seven games before he went down with a strained left hamstring on June 1, but Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that he could begin a minor league rehab assignment by the middle of next week.

The plan calls for Hamilton to work out with the Rangers’ Double-A affiliate on Sunday before taking Monday off. He’ll then work out and take batting practice with the Rangers on Tuesday before being re-evaluated. It looks like a return around the start of July is possible if he can avoid setbacks.

Hamilton was 6-for-22 (.273) with two home runs, two doubles, five RBI, and a 4/7 K/BB ratio prior to the injury.

Giancarlo Stanton says he’ll participate in the Home Run Derby if he’s asked

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 15:  Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the Miami Marlins looks on during the game against the New York Yankees at Marlins Park on June 15, 2015 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Good news for people who like to see baseballs hit really far.

According to C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton said last night that he plans to participate in this year’s Home Run Derby if he’s asked. This year’s Home Run Derby will take place on July 13, one day before the 2015 All-Star Game at Great American Ball Park. Stanton was asked about it with the Marlins in Cincinnati this weekend.

“I find myself trying to make too much of the little park in previous years,” Stanton said. “Last year I finally calmed down a little bit when I’m here. You get super-excited and by the time your three games are up, you have no homers and nothing hit to the wall. Then your next series you hit five balls that would have been out here — that’s what I feel like I used to do. I’ve kind of calmed it down a little bit.”

Stanton currently leads the majors with 25 home runs. Reds third baseman Todd Frazier is tied with Bryce Harper for second with 22 home runs and figures to be the captain for the National League squad. The field of participants should be made official the week before the event. You know, if you’re into that.

Bryce Harper returns to Nationals’ lineup Saturday

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 18: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals walks off the field with trainer Lee Kuntz, Anthony Rendon #6 and manager Matt Williams (R) after being injured and leaving the game in the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Nationals Park on June 18, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Bryce Harper gave the Nationals quite a scare when he was forced to exit Thursday’s game with a mild left hamstring strain, but Chase Hughes of CSNWashington.com reports that he’s back in the starting lineup for today’s game against the Pirates.

It’s a rapid turnaround for Harper, who initially appeared likely to miss a few days at the very least. Nationals manager Matt Williams preached a patient approach to the situation last night, saying that they would “take the appropriate steps necessary to make sure that he’s 100 percent ready to go when he is ready to go.” Apparently Harper has shown enough progress to return.

Here’s Harper’s take on how he’s feeling:

OK, then. Good enough for me.

Harper, 22, is batting .344/.476/.720 with 22 home runs and 53 RBI over 65 games this season.

Zack Hample, who caught Alex Rodriguez’s 3000th hit, plans to keep baseball for now

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 19:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees hits a home run as well as getting his 3000th career hit in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers during their game at Yankee Stadium on June 19, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Alex Rodriguez hit a home run for his 3,000th hit last night and the ball ended up in the hands of Zack Hample, a Yankees season ticket holder who is well known for snagging home run balls. He claims to have caught 8,161 baseballs at stadiums around the country and has even written books about it.

That Hample caught the historic homer was interesting, especially in light of what he tweeted (it has since been deleted) on Thursday night in response to a question about what he would do if he caught it:

@Yankeefan98 I’ll give him the finger and a dummy ball. That man deserves favors from no one, least of all a fan.

According to Tim Rohan of the New York Times, this was Hample’s reaction before the Yankees whisked him away in an attempt to get the ball back:

“I really think that whatever you want to do with it is your choice,” Hample said, moments afterward. “I think that somebody like Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez, who’s made half a billion dollars in their career, doesn’t really need a favor from, you know, a normal civilian and a fan like me. I don’t know right now if I’m going to sell it. Depending on what the Yankees could offer, I’d consider giving it back.”

The negotiations, which included Yankees president Randy Levine and chief operating officer Lonn Trost, didn’t get anywhere last night. Here’s a tweet from Hample during the game:

Hample appears to be softening on that stance, as he later told the Associated Press that he’s “thinking about” giving the ball back because the Yankees were “so nice.” He said the same thing on his Twitter account this morning.

David Kohler of SCP Auctions told ESPN that the ball is worth more than $50,000. Regardless of how you feel about Hample or his supposed approach to catching baseballs, that’s a lot of money to potentially turn down. It’s his right to keep it or sell it.

When Derek Jeter homered for his 3000th hit in 2011, Christian Lopez was quick to return the ball in exchange for some premium seats and memorabilia. It’s not coming as easily this time around:

“Where’s Jeet’s guy? That’s the guy I needed,” Rodriguez said. “I wasn’t so lucky.”

Jorge Soler takes batting practice for first time since ankle injury

PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 23:  Jorge Soler #68 of the Chicago Cubs follows through on a swing against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on May 23, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
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Jorge Soler has been sidelined since June 1 due to a left ankle sprain, but he’s getting closer to rejoining the Cubs.

According to Tony Andracki of CSNChicago.com, Soler was able to take batting practice yesterday for the first time since the injury. He resumed throwing over the weekend and was recently able to shed his walking boot. He’s likely not far off from a minor league rehab assignment at this point.

After a strong showing during his first stint in the majors this season, the 23-year-old Soler was off to a bit of a slow start prior to the injury, batting .265/.322/.402 with four home runs and 19 RBI over 49 games. Chris Denorfia is playing right field in his absence.