Bryce Harper says he’s ‘probably not’ going to make the Nationals

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But he added, “It’s all good, though.”

Bruce Harper is expected back in Washington’s lineup on Wednesday after missing six days with a calf injury, but he thinks it’s already too late for him to win a spot on the Opening Day roster.

“Probably not,” he answered when asked if he thinks he still has a chance to go north with the team.

The 19-year-old Harper was 5-for-11 before hurting his calf last week. Still, as talented as he is, his Double-A numbers last year didn’t really suggest that he was ready for the challenge of the majors at such a young age. Besides, there’s strong financial incentive for the Nationals to send him down for a month or two.

The Nationals appear likely to let Rick Ankiel and Roger Bernadina continue to battle it out for playing time in center field into the regular season. Jayson Werth is expected to eventually move to center for Harper, but he’ll continue to play right field for now.

Cardinals shut down Carlos Martínez for two weeks due to shoulder issue

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosh reports that the Cardinals are shutting down pitcher Carlos Martínez from throwing for two weeks because his shoulder strength isn’t where it should have been at this point. Langosch added that an MRI showed no structural damage in Martínez’s right shoulder.

Interestingly, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak didn’t sound too happy with Martínez offseason training regimen. Per Mark Saxon of The Athletic, Mozeliak said, “Obviously, there’s a history with Carlos’ shoulder and it would be probably in everybody’s best interest if he maintained a constant or perpetual approach to that program.”

Martínez, 27, battled oblique and shoulder injuries last year. He accrued just 118 2/3 innings, making just 18 starts. He was moved to the bullpen when he returned from the disabled list in August and finished out the season in that role. Still, Martínez managed a 3.11 ERA with 117 strikeouts and 60 walks.

Langosch reported last week that the Cardinals were considering using Martínez in relief again in 2019. The latest news may push the Cardinals to indeed use Martínez out of the bullpen once again. He will be reevaluated in early March, but there is a chance he won’t be ready for Opening Day.