Last season Austin Kearns turned a minor-league contract with the Marlins into a part-time bench role and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that the 33-year-old outfielder is expected to re-sign on another minor-league deal.
Kearns appeared in 87 games and logged 175 plate appearances, hitting .245 with a .733 OPS. That doesn’t sound like particularly good production, but considering the Marlins’ pitcher-friendly ballpark it was actually right around league-average and included a strong .366 on-base percentage that was Kearns’ highest since he got on base at a .407 clip as a 22-year-old rookie in 2002.
With the Marlins expected to start Juan Pierre, Justin Ruggiano, and Giancarlo Stanton in the outfield Kearns figures to see most of his playing time subbing for Pierre versus left-handed pitching.
When the Phillies go on the road, and even sometimes at home, outfielder Bryce Harper is a magnet for hecklers. Fans have been chanting things like “overrated” at him. But it hasn’t really been working.
Last night, Harper was being booed and ridiculed by fans at Fenway Park according to MLB.com’s Jessica Camerato. Harper shut them up with a two-run home run in the fifth inning which gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead, the score by which they would eventually win. Manager Gabe Kapler said, “I thought it was really interesting. There were some hecklers. I don’t know if they were Red Sox [fans] or who they were, but they were on him pretty good up until that moment. That was a pretty explosive moment for the dugout celebration.”
It is not the only time Harper has been heckled only to homer shortly thereafter.
Last week, Harper was 0-for-3 in a game against the Cubs. On his way back to the dugout, a fan yelled, “$330 million, 0-for-3.” Per TMZ Sports, Harper responded, “Shut the f–k up, stupid!” He would go on to hit a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Two weeks ago in San Francisco, fans chanted “overrated” at Harper. He promptly hit one of his two home runs in the Phillies’ 9-6 victory.
Harper was on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2009, when he was 17 years old. Tom Verducci compared him to LeBron James, a comparison that has stuck with Harper ever since. He was the No. 1 overall selection in the 2010 draft. He’s more than used to being in the spotlight and more than used to hearing a little criticism. He lets his haters be his motivators. Maybe his detractors should approach it from the opposite angle — try killing him with kindness. Yelling, “Bryce, you have great hair!” might get him to go on an 0-for-54 skid.