Nationals sign Rich Hill

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The Nationals have agreed to terms with left-hander Rich Hill on a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Hill, who turns 35 next month, bounced around three different organizations last year and mostly pitched in the minors. The sidearmer had a 3.38 ERA in 16 appearances between the Angels and Yankees and posted a 2.93 ERA in 29 appearances at the Triple-A level with New York and Boston. Hill pitched with the Indians in 2013 and struggled to the tune of a 6.28 ERA and 51/29 K/BB ratio over 38 2/3 innings.

Hill could compete for a job as a left-handed specialist this spring. He has held left-handed batters to a .216 batting average in his career.

Bryce Harper played some third base in an intrasquad game

Bryce Harper third base
Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.

Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.

Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”

Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.

Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.