Bryce Harper says no to beer, cortisone shots

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Adam Kilgore has a story about Bryce Harper and the way he takes care of his body. His only apparent vice: ice cream and occasional Starbucks drinks. But otherwise, his body is a temple. That goes for even the occasional beer now that he’s 21. It even goes for certain drugs and treatments that are commonplace and accepted in baseball.

Last year it was suggested that he take cortisone to deal with his knee injury. He didn’t want to and put it off. Eventually he did. But:

Looking back, Harper regrets taking the cortisone. He found the effects fleeting and the risk unworthy. He plans to never use cortisone again.

“I don’t think it really changed me,” Harper said. “I was still hurt. It gave me a boost for a week, where I felt, ‘Hey, I feel good.’ But then a couple days later, it was like, ‘Ack, this sucks.’ I’ll probably never do that again. I don’t like putting that stuff in my body. I don’t want to. I’m just not a big fan of it.”

He says he should have had the surgery he had in the offseason as soon as the injury happened. He goes on to talk about things relating to playing through pain, which sound like they contrast a bit with what you usually hear in baseball about playing through pain (you should do it) vs. playing through injury (you should not).

Obviously you’d rather have a guy erring on the side Harper is erring on — as opposed to erring on the side of excess — when it comes to junk food, drink and performance-enhancing drugs. How many guys aren’t at their best because they’re playing with hangovers or lugging around extra weight? But that Harper’s aim to keep his system pure might come into conflict with the team’s medical advice is potentially troublesome.

 

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.