Bryce Harper batted seventh in the Nationals’ lineup for each of his first four games, but manager Davey Johnson has decided to promote the 19-year-old to the No. 3 spot tonight.
That’s where the best hitter on the team generally bats and obviously in time the Nationals expect Harper to be that guy, but to be there already in his fifth game is surprising. And rare, too.
The last 19-year-old to bat third in a big-league game? B.J. Upton, who did so once in 2004. And before that it was Andruw Jones in 1996 and Ken Griffey Jr. in 1989.
Something tells me he might not be going back to Triple-A when Ryan Zimmerman returns.
Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.
Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.
Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.