Bryce Harper fakes everyone out, pretends he fouls a ball off his foot, gets another chance

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This is . . . novel.

Bryce Harper was batting in the bottom of the sixth inning with a 2-1 count when he seemed to ground out to first base. He came up limping, however, and the umpire called it a foul ball off his foot, so he lived to take another pitch. Two more pitches, in fact, both of which were balls, so he was awarded first base.

Except, the ball never hit his foot. He totally faked it. Watch the video here. And look at this:

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Note: that is not his foot. And no, it did not ricochet off his foot to that position. That’s where it’s hitting the ground on the fly.

I’m sure someone will say that this is bush league. Not playing the game the right way. Maybe it is. We don’t see stuff like this too often. Guys pretend they get hit by pitches sometimes to take a base and no one gets too bent out of shape about it, but this seems maybe a step beyond that. More like A-Rod “I got it” territory or something. An interesting philosophical question.

But whatever you think about it, you do have to marvel at his reflexes here. You can’t go up to the plate thinking about doing this as you have too many other things to think about. He had to come up with this ruse in a fraction of a second, on the fly. That’s pretty dang impressive.

Shohei Ohtani medically cleared to begin a throwing progression

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The Angels released a medical update on P/DH Shohei Ohtani Thursday evening. Ohtani was reevaluated by Dr. Steve Yoon at the Kerlan Jobe Institute. The right-hander’s sprained UCL showed improved healing and, as a result, he has been cleared to begin a throwing progression.

Ohtani, 24, was diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow after his June 6 start against the Royals and hasn’t pitched since, though he has been in the lineup as a hitter since July 3. It was initially believed he would undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. Then the thought was that Ohtani wouldn’t pitch again for the rest of the season, but this update suggests a possibility he could return to the mound before the season is over.

In nine starts, Ohtani put together a 3.10 ERA with a 61/20 K/BB ratio in 49 1/3 innings. As a hitter, he batted .283/.365/.522 with seven home runs and 22 RBI in 157 plate appearances.