Jack Wilson, who re-signed with the Braves last month for $1 million, is expected to miss the beginning of the season with a strained calf suffered early in camp.
Wilson was slated to push rookie shortstop Tyler Pastornicky during spring training, so that job now falls to Drew Sutton, Josh Wilson, and Brandon Hicks.
Once healthy he’ll fill a utility man role after the 34-year-old hit just .243 with a .559 OPS last season, failing to crack a .600 mark in back-to-back years.
Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.
Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.
Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.