Tony Cingrani hits Bryce Harper in the back with a pitch, then complains he was too slow getting to first base

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Reds reliever Tony Cingrani hit Bryce Harper in the back with a fastball in the seventh inning of Friday night’s game against the Nationals. Here’s the video. Putting Harper on first base meant that the tying run was only 270 feet away from home plate, so it’s difficult to see Cingrani wanting to hit Harper on purpose in that situation.

As Harper was hit square in the back, he took his time getting to first base. Per MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, first baseman Joey Votto was not happy about the way Harper handled the situation, for some reason. He was 0-for-3 to that point, so it wasn’t like he gawked at a home run.

Cingrani wasn’t happy about Harper, either.

Harper is still only 22 years old, but he’s in his fourth year in the majors and has unquestionably been the best player in baseball so far this season. For whatever reason, some players like Harper — as well as Yasiel Puig and Carlos Gomez — become lightning rods with which older players use to make points about the unwritten rules.

Grant Brisbee wrote a terrific column about baseball’s unwritten rules at SB Nation recently, which certainly has relevance here.

Yankees set to activate Giancarlo Stanton on Tuesday

Giancarlo Stanton
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Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton is set to return from the injured list on Tuesday, manager Aaron Boone told reporters on Sunday. The timing coincides well with the addition of Edwin Encarnación, who was acquired from the Mariners on Saturday evening and is expected to be active and available for the Yankees as soon as Monday night.

The Yankees have every reason to hope that Stanton will be able to return to his usual 30+ homer, 4.0+ fWAR self as he works his way back to a full-time role this season. (Fueling some of that hope: Four home runs in 10 PA at High-A Tampa during his latest stretch of rehab games.) Undoubtedly, they’re still prepared to play it safe with the 29-year-old, who has already suffered significant shoulder, biceps, and calf injuries and has not appeared in a major-league game since March 31. Through the Yankees’ first three games of 2019, he went 2-for-15 with a pair of singles, seven walks, and four strikeouts.

With Encarnación slotting into a DH/first base role, Stanton is expected to spend the bulk of his playing time in the left field corner. That may cause a bit of a logjam in the outfield, as Brett Gardner took over that spot in Stanton’s absence and will likely be forced into a backup role once Aaron Judge returns from the IL — but for now, Boone says, he “still expects Gardy to play a lot.”