Chris Archer
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Chris Archer won’t appeal suspension

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Pirates right-hander Chris Archer will not appeal the five-game suspension that was issued by Major League Baseball last week, the pitcher told reporters Sunday. It’s less an admission of guilt and more a logistical decision, however, as the Pirates’ two off days will push his next scheduled start to the weekend, effectively nullifying the club’s need for a spot starter in his league-mandated absence.

The right-hander played a pivotal role in the Pirates-Reds fracas last weekend after he intentionally threw at Reds infielder Derek Dietrich for hitting — and admiring — a two-run, splash-hit homer in the second inning. The dispute led to a benches-clearing brawl, at which point Reds manager David Bell, outfielder Yasiel Puig, left-hander Amir Garrett, and Pirates relievers Keone Kela and Felipe Vázquez were ejected for their respective involvement in the fray.

On Tuesday, suspensions and fines were handed down to Archer (five games), Bell (one game), and Puig (two games). Both Bell and Puig served their suspensions immediately, while Archer was reportedly set to appeal his suspension before it became clear that he would not experience any interruption in his regular pitching schedule.

That’s an awfully light sentence for something as serious as throwing a 93.3-m.p.h. fastball at another player. As both Bill and Craig pointed out, it makes no sense for the league to hold starting pitchers to the same kind of suspension system that applies to regular position players, given that starters only pitch every five days and do not suffer the effects of a multi-day suspension in the same way that a position player might. Worse, not punishing Archer for his very punishable offense suggests that MLB is still willing to look the other way when it comes to the ‘unwritten rules’ of baseball — rules that continue to put players’ health and lives in jeopardy.

Bryce Harper played some third base in an intrasquad game

Bryce Harper third base
Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.

Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.

Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”

Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.

Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.