Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com reports that Bryce Harper is back in the Nationals’ starting lineup for tonight’s series opener against the Padres, three days after he crashed into the right field wall at Dodger Stadium.
Harper returned to action last night as a pinch-hitter and grounded out in the ninth inning. The 20-year-old outfield said after the game that he was feeling “terrible,” but apparently he has made some progress overnight. Harper received 11 stitches on his chin as a result of crashing into the fence and is also nursing some soreness with his rib cage, knee and shoulder. While he was experiencing nausea this week, the Nationals say that he has passed two concussion tests.
Harper is batting .300/.397/.617 with 10 home runs and 21 RBI in 36 games this season. He ranks seventh in the majors with a 1.014 OPS.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.
Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.
Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.
Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.