Bryce Harper’s bid to make the Nationals at the tender age of 19 could be derailed by a calf injury that will sideline him for “at least three days,” manager Davey Johnson said Friday.
Harper woke up with tightness in his left calf Thursday and was scratched from the day’s lineup. He missed a second game Friday.
The Nationals have indicated they’re open to putting Jayson Werth in center field to make room for Harper in right, and Harper was making an early case for the job with hits in his first four appearances of the spring. He was 5-for-11 with a walk and two strikeouts before going down.
If Harper ends up missing a week or more, that’d probably be enough to see to it that he begins the season in the minors. The Nationals have financial incentive for going that route anyway.
The Texas Rangers just announced that they have fired Jeff Banister as the team’s manager. Bench coach Don Wakamatsu has been named interim manager for the remainder of 2018 season.
Banister was in the last year of his contract with the club, but there was an option for 2019. Rangers brass, obviously, has decided to go in a different direction following what will be the club’s worst finish in Banister’s tenure. At the moment the Rangers are 64-88 and are assured of last place in the AL West.
Banister was hired before the 2015 season and led the Rangers to first place finishes in each of his first two seasons, willing the Manager of the Year Award in 2015. The club fell to a disappointing third place and a 78-84 record last season, however and, after an offseason that neither helped the Rangers rebuild OR reload, this season the descent has continued.
Injuries and under achievement has been the order of the day for the past two years and, with the career of Adrian Beltre nearing its end and the Rangers having been passed up by the Astros as the class of the division, a full rebuild is in the club’s future. Even if that was not the case, however, recently there have been some reports about Banister having trouble communicating with his players, suggesting that, perhaps, the Rangers would move on from him even if the results on the field had been better.
Banister ends his reign as the Rangers’ skipper with a record of 325-313.