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Zack Greinke is struggling to crack 90 m.p.h. with his fastball


Zack Greinke is not like most ballplayers. He does not speak in cliches like they do and he does not try to spin every single negative thing as a positive. We’re used to only hearing negativity from players when things are really bad — athletes always try to think positively — but with Greinke, it’s not safe to make that sort of an assumption.

That said, given how important Greinke is to the Diamondbacks, it’s still worth paying at least some attention to sentiment like this:

Greinke was above 90 in his first spring outing but has been only hitting the mid-80s in his last two starts, including an intrasquad game this morning. Nick Piecoro, who has followed Greinke for a long time, notes that Greinke has had to build up his velocity during spring training in the past as well. He wonders whether or not Greinke has dead arm, which is not an uncommon ailment for pitchers in March.

Greinke, 34, posted a 3.20 ERA and a 215/45 K/BB ratio over 202.1 innings last season and was fourth in the NL Cy Young Award voting. There’s no reason to think that he’s suddenly lost it. And again, it’s not wise to overreact to what he says, but it’s probably something worth watching.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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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.