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Chris Paddack on Pete Alonso: ‘I’m coming for him’

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Padres rookie starter Chris Paddack is a good one. Over six starts he’s got a 1.91 ERA and an excellent K/BB ratio of 35/9 over 33 innings. He throws gas but changes speeds wonderfully and doesn’t walk many guys. He’s only 23 but he’s exactly what you want in an ace. All he lacks is the experience.

Mets rookie first baseman Pete Alonso is a good one. Over 34 games he’s got a line of .280/.364/.600 with 10 homers and 27 driven in. He also just won Rookie of the Month honors for April. He’s only 24 but he’s exactly the sort of slugger Mets fans had been hoping the team would develop for many, many years.

Tonight they’ll face each other in San Diego as Paddack starts for the Padres against the Mets.

Yesterday Paddack did what not many baseball players do: he name-checked Alonso as a guy he perceives as a rival with specific reference to Rookie of the Month/Rookie of the Year honors and said, in no uncertain terms, that he’s gunning for him:

“He’s a great player, no doubt. Does he deserve (the Rookie of the Month honor)? Absolutely. But I’m coming for him. We’ll see Monday who the top dog is. That’s something I’m looking forward to, for sure. And I’m not saying that in a cocky way. I’m saying that because I know what I want, just like I’m sure he knows what he wants. It’ll be a fun little matchup.

“Do I wish it was me? Yeah. But the way I look at it is, do you want to be Rookie of the Month or Rookie of the Year? We’ll see, man. We’ve got a long season and I’m looking forward to Monday, competing against him.”

Given all the “he’s a great player” and the comment that Alonso “absolutely” deserved Rookie of the Month honors, that’s not really even close to trash talk, even if the New York tabloids portray it as trash talk after today’s game. But it’s a lot closer to it than the typically bland mutual admiration society that you tend to see from ballplayers talking about other ballplayers.

Thing is, almost all of them think the way Paddack talks. It’s rather refreshing to hear him be so honest about it.

Bryce Harper played some third base in an intrasquad game

Bryce Harper third base
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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.