Chris Carpenter threw another problem-free bullpen session yesterday, continuing an unexpected comeback from spine and shoulder problems that initially threatened to end his career.
Instead he’s eying a minor-league rehab assignment at some point within the next two weeks, assuming the 38-year-old can avoid a setback while throwing a few more bullpen sessions.
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself,” Carpenter told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. “I want to slowly get back involved and make sure that I’m doing the things that I need to do to be ready when it’s time.”
But here’s a twist: While most people had assumed any comeback would be as a reliever, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that Carpenter’s work patterns in the bullpen sessions appear to have him conditioning himself to be a starter. Him returning at all would be a helluva story, but as a starter? Wow.
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.