Smoltz refuses assignment to minors

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Designated for assignment by the Red Sox last week, John Smoltz has refused a demotion to the minors. That basically ends his career in Boston, as the Red Sox now must either trade or release the 42-year-old veteran, who reportedly passed through waivers unclaimed yesterday.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com notes that a trade could prove difficult because of the incentives in Smoltz’s contract, so interested teams such as the Cardinals or Dodgers may wait to pursue him until the Red Sox cut him loose. Smoltz posted an ugly 8.32 ERA in eight starts with the Red Sox, but I’m still convinced that he can get big-league hitters out and for now at least it sounds like he wants to continue pitching.
Everyone teed off on his fastball, but the pitch still clocked in at an average of 91.3 miles per hour and Smoltz’s slider remained extremely tough to hit. He also had a solid 33/9 K/BB ratio in 40 innings and held right-handed batters to .232/.259/.390 in 85 plate appearances, all of which suggests that he still has a little gas left in the tank. A move back to the bullpen might be best for Smoltz, who seemed to fall apart after the first couple innings.
Incidentally, you can watch a 24-year-old Smoltz pitch against Jack Morris in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series right now on MLB Network. I have a feeling it’ll be a decent game.

Bryce Harper finally gets his first spring training hit with Phillies

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Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper hasn’t had the best spring training showing. After a delayed start because he didn’t officially sign until early this month, Harper made his Phillies debut on March 9. Then Harper had an injury scare when he was hit in the ankle by a pitch on March 15. Harper returned on Sunday and finally registered his first hit of the spring on Wednesday — a line drive up the middle.

Harper finished 1-for-2 with a walk on the afternoon. In 10 official at-bats, Harper is batting .100/.438/.100. As you can see, five total walks are helping that on-base percentage. Spring stats are largely meaningless, though, so no one should be worried about Harper with the start of the regular season just a week away.