Bryce Harper scratched with a bruised arm

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Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was hit twice by Braves pitchers last night, the second of which, thrown by reliever Luis Avilan, garnered a standing ovation from the home crowd in Atlanta. Braves pitchers have been at fault three of the four times Harper has been hit by a pitch this year. Recall that the benches cleared on August 6 when starter Julio Teheran plunked Harper. So there’s definitely some hard feelings at least in one direction.

Harper has been scratched from tonight’s lineup due to a bruise on his left arm sustained from getting hit by Avilan’s fastball, per CSN’s Mark Zuckerman. Zuckerman spoke to manager Davey Johnson, who said he and the clubhouse at large are not happy about the fact that his best player isn’t able to play, but insisted that he hasn’t given his players any instructions to retaliate.

In Harper’s absence, Denard Span will lead off and play center with Scott Hairston in left and Jayson Werth in right.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.