Nationals’ GM says Bryce Harper could make the team out of spring training

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It’s no secret that Nationals manager Davey Johnson would like top prospect Bryce Harper to make the team out of spring training as the starting right fielder. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has played things pretty coy until now, but his comments to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com yesterday indicate that he hasn’t dismissed the possibility.

“We’re take a look at him and see where he’s at developmentally. If we feel he’s ready to play at the major-league level, we’re not going to restrict him,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said by phone. “We’ll be cautious yet open-minded. If he gives us the best chance to win, we’ll keep an open mind and see where it takes us.”

This idea continues to gain momentum, but unless Harper absolutely tears the cover off the ball during spring training and gives the Nationals no other choice, I still see it as unlikely. Harper batted .256/.329/.395 with a .724 OPS over 147 plate appearances after being promoted to Double-A Harrisburg last season and while that’s pretty darn impressive for an 18-year-old, some more at-bats in the minor leagues might not be the worst thing for his development.

Of course, the most significant reason to keep Harper in the minors to begin the year would be to delay his service time so that he doesn’t qualify as a Super Two player down the road. With that in mind, chances are we’ll see him when some of the game’s other top prospects make their way to the majors in late-May or June.

Tim Anderson on Joe West: ‘I don’t have much to say about him. Everybody knows he’s terrible.’

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During the top of the ninth inning of Saturday night’s 7-3 loss to the Cubs, White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson was ejected by umpire Joe West. Anderson attempted to complete a double play started by second baseman Yoan Moncada, but Javier Báez slid hard into Anderson at the second base bag to disrupt him. Anderson’s throw went past first baseman Matt Davidson, allowing a run to score.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria challenged the ruling on the field, but it was upheld after replay review. Anderson had a brief conversation with umpire Joe West then went back to his position. Shortly thereafter, West ejected Anderson, who became irate.

After the game, Anderson said of West, via Vinnie Duber of NBC Sports Chicago, “I asked him a question, and he kind of got pissed at me. I asked him if he saw [Báez] reach for my leg in the replay. He asked me if I was going to argue that, and I said, ‘No, I was just asking a question.’ And after that I didn’t say anything else. He started barking at me. Kept staring me down. I gave him, ‘Why you keep looking at me?’ Did that twice and threw me out.”

Anderson then said, “I don’t have much to say about him. Everybody knows he’s terrible. But I didn’t say much and he threw me out. It’s OK.” Anderson added about the play in which one can see Báez reach his arm out to interfere with Anderson, “Yeah, definitely. You could see it in the replay. That’s just one of the many that they missed in New York, I guess.”

Anderson’s criticism of West doesn’t come as a surprise. West has had a reputation as an instigator for decades. Major League Baseball almost never holds umpires accountable for their conduct on the field and some umpires, like West, take advantage of this knowledge.

It was a bittersweet ending for Anderson as he homered earlier in the game, becoming the first White Sox shortstop ever to have 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in the same season. It’s just the sixth 20/20 season in White Sox history, joining Alex Ríos (2010, 2012), Ray Durham (2001), Magglio Ordóñez (2001), and Tommie Agee.

Anderson accounted for the only run the White Sox scored on Sunday against the Cubs with an RBI double. On the season, he’s hitting .243/.284/.412 with those 20 homers, 26 steals, 64 RBI, and 76 runs in 594 plate appearances.