CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman suggests that Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper could return to the team on Monday, the final day of June. Harper will play seven innings in right field in tonight’s game, then will play a full nine in center on Friday. Following an off-day on Saturday, Harper will play in left field on Sunday. The Nationals will gauge his progress from there.
Harper has been on the disabled list since April 26 after suffering a torn UCL in his left thumb on a head-first slide. Up until the injury, Harper had slashed .289/.352/.422 with one home run and nine RBI in 91 plate appearances. Getting Harper back would be a boost for the Nationals, who enter Thursday’s action with a tenuous one-game first place lead in the NL East.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.