Joe Maddon is well-known for his creative and elaborate spring training motivation techniques. He has had his team do yoga and meditation. This year he used artwork as a visualization thing. If you search “Joe Maddon” and “unconventional” you get back a lot of articles.
Dave Martinez was Joe Maddon’s protege in Tampa Bay and Chicago for several years. He’s now the manager of the Washington Nationals. Based on what’s going on at Nats camp this morning, I think it’s fair to say that he is following in his mentor’s footsteps:
Guess we have to wait until October to see if the Nats can finally get . . . over the hump and into the NLCS.
Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.
Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.
Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.