If you weren’t watching baseball into the wee hours of Sunday morning, you might have missed some Bryce Harper drama at Turner Field. Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution explains …
What’s the problem with the ‘A’ Bryce Harper?
The Nationals outfielder dragged his foot across the Braves emblem in the dirt behind home plate – in a clearly intentional move – in each of his first three trips to the batter’s box in Saturday night’s game against the Braves.
Harper has been roundly booed in each plate appearance during the series. He apparently chose to take the lack of southern hospitality out on the Georgia clay.
Here’s a Vine of Harper doing the deed, via user Atlanta Sports Guy:
That sure looks intentional, but Harper denied doing it on purpose after the game. “That’s the last thing on my mind when I’m coming to the plate,” he told James Wagner of the Washington Post. “I have no idea.”
The people running the Braves’ official Twitter account took notice …
The Nats and Braves wrap up their weekend series on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. Retaliation, perhaps?
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.