Bryce Harper declines invitation to participate in Home Run Derby

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It’s a bummer that Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will have to miss the 2015 Home Run Derby due to a broken hamate bone, but now we can also scratch Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper off the list of participants.

According to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com, Harper declined an invitation to participate because his dad, Ron Harper, recently had rotator cuff surgery and isn’t fully healed:

“Not having my dad throw with me, it’s a huge issue for me,” Harper said Monday afternoon before the Nationals’ series opener against the Reds. “I think being comfortable on a stage like that with somebody that I know can throw strikes for me, knows where my sweet spot’s at … you know, that’s huge for me. So hopefully in a couple years he’ll be OK and we’ll see where I go.”

With his dad throwing to him, Harper finished as the runner-up to Yoenis Cespedes in the 2013 Home Run Derby at Citi Field. It’s understandable why he wants to sit this one out.

While it would have been a treat to see Stanton and Harper in the mix, two power-hitting rookies appear poised to rise to the occasion:

Oakland Athletics reverse course, will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.