Yesterday NPB, the Japanese major league, announced that it was postponing the start of its season due to coronavirus concerns. Today the Korean Baseball Organization — South Korea’s counterpart to NPB and MLB — followed suit.
Yonhap News Agency reports that the KBO has decided to postpone the start of the regular season until an undetermined time in April. The league still hopes to play its full 144-game regular season. When they are able to determine an official date to resume play, the league will give teams two weeks notice to get ready for the season.
Yesterday Major League Baseball announced that it will limit clubhouse access to the media. It has so far made no nod to the possibility to postponing the start of the season, but it will reportedly monitor local markets and will consider its options if health authorities recommend games not to be played in a given city. A potential option is for teams to play games at other locations.
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.