Michael Pineda making progress in comeback attempt

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There might be some help on the horizon for the Yankees’ injury wrecked rotation.

Michael Pineda hasn’t pitched since being suspended for pine tar in April and then suffering an unrelated shoulder injury, but the right-hander has been cleared to throw live batting practice following numerous setbacks.

Ian Begley of ESPN New York reports that Pineda threw a bullpen session during the All-Star break without any issues, so if things go well this week he’d likely be ready to begin a minor-league rehab assignment that could make clear his return timetable.

Pineda, who missed all of 2012 and all of 2013 with injuries, posted a 1.83 ERA and 15/3 K/BB ratio in four starts to begin the season before getting suspended/hurt.

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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.