As funny as it sounds, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper plans to play Playstation to rehab his injured left thumb, Scott Allen of The Washington Post reports. Harper suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb following a head-first slide in late April. He underwent surgery shortly thereafter.
Thus, Harper has a legitimate medical reason for including Playstation as part of his rehab. Presumably, using his left thumb to aim firearms, operate motor vehicles, and shimmy past linebackers will strengthen it after a dormant period following the surgery.
Harper, 21, went on the disabled list slashing .289/.352/.422 with a homer, nine RBI, and a stolen base in 91 trips to the plate. He’s aiming for a July 1 return.
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.