Not gonna say that there was bad blood between Bobby Valentine and Bob McClure, but …

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I figure people in Boston followed this more closely than the rest of us, but this passage from Sean McAdam’s story about the Red Sox firing Bob McClure says an awful lot:

McClure was granted a leave of absence from the team earlier in the season to attend to a sick infant who was seriously ill and Niemann served as interim pitching coach in McClure’s absence. After McClure returned, Valentine later made mention of McClure’s “two-week vacation” before correcting himself.

Gordon Edes, talking about the same verbal slip, firmly believes that it was no accident on Valentine’s part.

The Red Sox’ pitching stinks, so it probably made no difference, but when you are so far from being on the same page as your manager that he’s jabbing you over a leave of absence to attend to your sick child, you really never had any job security at all.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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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.