Chris Johnson was removed from Friday’s game after throwing a tantrum

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Braves third baseman Chris Johnson was removed from last night’s game against the Rockies after he threw a tantrum in the tunnel leading to the clubhouse following a strikeout in the second inning.

Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes that pieces of a bat Johnson shattered hit both Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez and Gerald Laird, who were standing near the dugout steps. Gonzalez had “a few choice words” for Johnson and immediately replaced him with Ramiro Pena at third base.

Johnson said after the game that he apologized to his teammates and understands that he needs to keep his emotions in check.

“I play with a lot of passion,” Johnson said. “Every single pitch and every single at-bat, I hold in high regard. When things don’t go well, that is kind of my downfall. That is one of the biggest parts of my game I need to work on. One of the worst things I could ever do is hurt a teammate or something like that.

“This has to be it for me. I think it will get a point where people won’t think I’m truly sorry for doing it. It just looks selfish.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time that Johnson has displayed reckless behavior around his teammates. He got into a confrontation with first base coach Terry Pendleton last September after he threw his helmet in frustration and hit Pendleton with it. Johnson was also benched for two games last month after went on a rampage in the dugout.

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.