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Bryce Harper says heckling Nationals fans crossed a line

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The Phillies and Nationals just kicked off the finale of their five-game series in Washington, with the Nationals looking for the series sweep. That will put the finishing touches on a season series in which the Nationals have thoroughly dismantled the Phillies, winning 13 of 18 games entering Thursday’s action.

The season series, of course, had intrigue beyond the division rivalry. Outfielder Bryce Harper left the Nationals to enter free agency and ended up signing with the Phillies on a then-record 13-year, $330 million contract. The two previous times Harper has returned to Washington, D.C. this year, as a visiting player, he has heard boos and heckling, but he seemed to take it in stride. However, last night, with the Nationals having already wrapped up a playoff berth and ended the Phillies’ playoff hopes, Harper says Nationals fans in right field were particularly nasty, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports.

Harper said, “They were fine all game talking about myself and things like that. I mean, I get it everywhere I go. It’s nothing new, but the last inning – it’s just not right. It’s just not right.”

Harper wouldn’t elaborate on what the fans said specifically that was so offensive, but his wife Kayla tweeted, “When you bring his son or family into it, yes you’re crossing a line.”

Responding to several people on Twitter, Kayla added that the family-directed heckling hasn’t been from just one person and said, “It’s been going on all season.” She also said to someone who expressed skepticism over her claim, “I truly doubt you are aware of the [direct messages] I have gotten from nats fans all season. Wishing my son has autism when he’s born for example. So yes all season.”

Bryce and Kayla had their first child, Krew Aron, last month.

Bryce said, “That’s part of sports. I guess that’s what it is nowadays.” Later on, he said, “Individually you go out there and don’t really worry about what they’re saying. But there are times – it’s just not good and just not right. Everybody has a platform now whether it’s Twitter, Instagram or in the stands. They kind of say whatever they want and that’s just how it is. You kind of have to live with it. You see it in the NBA, you see it in the NFL and you see it here now and I guess it is just part of sports now.”

Giants sign Darin Ruf to minor league contract

Darin Ruf
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The Athletic’s Jayson Stark reports that the Giants have signed 1B/OF Darin Ruf to a minor league contract.

Ruf, 33, played parts of five seasons in the majors with the Phillies from 2012-16, enjoying occasional offensive success. He spent the last three seasons in the KBO League in South Korea with the Samsung Lions, reigniting his career. Ruf hit an aggregate .313/.404/.564 with 86 home runs and 350 RBI over 1,756 plate appearances.

Ruf joins an ever-increasing list of players whose major league careers fizzled out, then found new life overseas — Eric Thames and Miles Mikolas are a couple of examples. Ruf will hope to prove himself as a big leaguer once more in spring training with the Giants.