Davey Johnson says Bryce Harper is likely done for season with hamstring strain

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According to Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com, Nationals manager Davey Johnson just confirmed what most of us already assumed. Bryce Harper, who suffered a right hamstring strain while running the bases in a game with Double-A Harrisburg last night, will likely be shut down for the rest of the season.

“He probably won’t play the rest of the year, as far as I know,” Johnson said. “There’s only a few days left. You take a chance of aggravating it, and it becomes more of a serious injury.”

Of course, saying “shut down for the season” sounds pretty harsh, but missing the final two and a half weeks of the minor league schedule really isn’t a big deal. The Nationals haven’t given an official update on his condition yet, but if they rest him now, there’s still a very good chance he’ll be ready to play in the Arizona Fall League in October. Missing that would be a shame.

Harper, 18, made a mockery of the Sally League to begin the season, batting .318/.423/.554 with 14 home runs and a .977 OPS with Class A Hagerstown, but has looked his age against more advanced competition, batting .256/.329/.395 with three homers and a .724 OPS over 147 plate appearances since being promoted to Double-A Harrisburg in early July. Still, quite a debut for the 2010 No. 1 overall pick.

UPDATE: Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com reports that Harper is being placed on the seven-day disabled list with Double-A Harrisburg. Not ruled out for the rest of the season yet, but it’s still highly unlikely he’ll return.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.