Harper breaks thumb in Phillies’ 4-2 win over Padres

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
3 Comments

SAN DIEGO — Bryce Harper saw the pitch flying toward his face, so he quickly turned his head and raised his left hand to protect himself.

Turns out, the Phillies slugger would rather he hadn’t.

Harper will be sidelined indefinitely with a broken left thumb after he was hit by a pitch from Blake Snell in Philadelphia’s 4-2 victory over the San Diego Padres on Saturday night.

“I kind of wish it hit me in the face,” said Harper, who was wearing a splint on his thumb. “I don’t break bones in my face. I think I can take 98 (mph) to the face, but not 97 to the thumb. Yeah, I was kind of in protection mode a little bit trying to get my hand up there and not let it hit me again.

“It’s just a bummer. I am really bummed out.”

The reigning NL MVP, who missed only a few games last year when he was hit in the face by a fastball from St. Louis’ Genesis Cabrera, checked his swing as the 97 mph fastball from Snell rode inside and high toward his shoulder before hitting him on the outside of the left hand in the fourth inning.

Harper immediately fell to the ground and was in visible pain as he held his hand while on his knees for several minutes with Phillies head trainer Paul Buchheit attending to him.

Phillies general manager Dave Dombrowski, who traveled with the team on the road trip, said it was too early to determine if surgery will be needed. He added he wasn’t sure what type of fracture Harper had or where on his thumb the injury occurred. Harper said he would see a medical specialist when he returns to Philadelphia.

“We will put him on the injured list (Sunday),” Dombrowski said. “I was concerned at first he got hit in the face. I was concerned right off the bat because he is a tough guy and he walked off the field immediately.”

As Harper was halfway to Philadelphia’s dugout, he appeared to angrily yell at Snell and motioned with his hand at the Padres starting pitcher. Snell eventually shouted back at Harper. Many of the fans at Petco Park fans started to boo Harper after several seconds with Harper shouting at Snell.

Harper then appeared to cool down and say, “I know, I know” to Snell, acknowledging that the pitcher didn’t mean to hit him with the pitch.

“It wasn’t heated at all,” Harper said. “It was just the moment and a crappy situation. I’ve been playing against Blake since we were 10, 11 years old so I know there was no ill-will behind that at all. The inside pitch is part of the game. He is a great player and a great human being as well. I wish him the best and I told him to keep throwing that inside fastball because it sets that slider really good.”

Snell texted Harper and said the two are on good terms.

“Obviously, I felt terrible hitting him,” Snell said. “I don’t do that and he knows that. We’ve talked, we’ve handled it. He plays with a lot of passion and I can understand why he’d be upset. I’m just as upset as he is – I hit him. … I just hope he recovers quickly and gets back out there and continues to compete.”

Snell added he and Harper were going to see each other after Saturday’s game or on Sunday.

The Phillies got all the runs they would need in this one off Snell (0-5) in the fifth inning. J.T. Realmuto hit a solo home run, and Alec Bohm followed with a double. Didi Gregorius singled to put runners on first and third, and Yairo Munoz had a run-scoring groundout and Kyle Schwarber an RBI single.

Phillies starter Zach Eflin (3-5) pitched five effective innings, allowing four hits – including Jorge Alfaro‘s two-run double in the fifth – while striking out three and walking two. Seranthony Dominguez got three outs for his second save of the season.

Snell gave up four runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings with four strikeouts and two walks.

Philadelphia will now have to move forward for much – or perhaps the rest – of the season without its biggest bat and run producer in Harper.

Harper, serving as the Phillies’ designated hitter, was replaced by Johan Camargo.

Harper is hitting .318 with 15 home runs, 48 RBIs and a .984 OPS this season in 64 games despite a small tear in the UCL of his right elbow that has prevented him from playing the outfield since April 16. He has tried to avoid season-ending Tommy John surgery with a platelet-rich plasma injection and rest.

“He is a guy who really isn’t replaceable on an individual basis, but we are going to have to be in a position that other people are going to have to step up,” Dombrowski said. “We will make a move to try and get someone here (Sunday).”

Dombrowski said outfielder Mickey Moniak, the 2016 No. 1 overall pick who has struggled in limited action in the majors, would be an option to be called up to help offset the loss of Harper.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Phillies: RHP Connor Brogdon was placed on COVID-19 list. … To replace Brogdon, the Phillies selected the contract of Mark Appel, who was the first overall pick in the 2013 draft and had been pitching this season for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. It is his first time in the big leagues. He didn’t pitch Saturday night.

Padres: 3B Manny Machado took a notable step in his recovery from a sprained left ankle, taking batting practice and ground balls on the field before the game. Machado declined to comment on the status of his ankle, but manager Bob Melvin continued to express optimism that Machado could be available to pinch hit in the near future.

UP NEXT

Phillies RHP Kyle Gibson (4-3, 4.06 ERA) takes the hill in the four-game series finale against Padres RHP Yu Darvish (7-3, 3.17 ERA).

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
0 Comments

ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.