The Orioles were given quite the scare yesterday when slugger Nelson Cruz was hit on the left hand with a pitch, but the early word is that he’s on track to be in the starting lineup tomorrow against the Rangers.
Fortunately no fracture was found in Cruz’s hand and he’s only dealing with a contusion. The swelling is down and he’s able to grip a bat, so Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com writes that the Orioles are “encouraged” that he’ll be able to play tomorrow. It’s no sure thing, as the final test will be batting practice tomorrow, but the good news is that it’s a day-to-day situation.
Signed to a one-year, $8 million deal over the winter, Cruz has been a tremendous bargain for the Orioles and one of the most productive hitters in the game. The 33-year-old is batting .314/.384/.672 in 54 games and leads the majors with 20 home runs and 52 RBI. He was named the AL Player of the Week earlier today.
Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.
Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.
Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”
Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.
Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.