According to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington, Nationals right-hander Doug Fister revealed last night that he had skin cancer removed from his neck this week.
Fister could be seen with a row of stitches on the left side of his neck during his start last night against the Giants. He ended up giving up four runs over six innings – his worst start since June 15 — but he told reporters after the game that the procedure had “no effect” on his performance.
Fister offered no other details about the situation, but skin cancer is a big danger for baseball players, coaches, and scouts, who obviously spend a lot of time in the sun. James Wagner of the Washington Post wrote an excellent story on the issue earlier this year.
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.