MLB Notes: Bryce Harper has deep bone bruise; Nationals hope for return this year

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MLB Notes: Bryce Harper has deep bone bruise; Nationals hope for return this year

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals say Bryce Harper has a "significant" bone bruise in his left knee but no ligament damage, and general manager Mike Rizzo is hopeful the star outfielder will be back this season.

Harper injured his knee when he slipped on first base in the first inning of a rain-delayed game against the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night. Rizzo said Sunday that Harper had an MRI afterward that showed no structural damage.

"Although we feel we've dodged a bullet a bit here with any long-term ligament and tendon damage, the bone bruise is something of significance, and we're going to treat him cautiously and hopefully have him back later on this season," Rizzo said. "We put ourselves in a position that we can treat it cautiously and we'll continue down that road."

Rizzo says there's no timetable for Harper to return. The team is placing him on the 10-day disabled list and activating outfielder Michael Taylor.

Harper, the 2015 National League MVP, is having another spectacular season for division-leading Washington, hitting .326 with 29 home runs and 87 RBIs.

Rizzo -- and anyone watching the play -- feared it was a serious, potentially season-ending injury. Harper clutched at his left knee and didn't put any weight on it as he was helped off the field.

"We were all holding our breath last night a little bit and hoping for the best," Rizzo said. "Got a glimmer of hope last night when he was able to walk up the stairs from the dugout to the clubhouse and put some weight on it. Had some optimism."

Rizzo cautioned that "the bone bruise is real" and that the team has the luxury of being extra cautious because of its 14-game lead in the NL East. Given injuries to Harper, Stephen Strasburg -- who has a rehab assignment Monday -- and others, the Nationals' focus is getting healthy for the playoffs.

Rockies: Bettis to return after cancer diagnosis
MIAMI  -- Colorado Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis will complete his comeback from chemotherapy for testicular cancer by starting Monday night's game in Denver against Atlanta.

The 28-year-old Bettis finished his last round of treatment in May, two months after doctors discovered his testicular cancer had spread. He had surgery in November to remove the cancer, but it returned and he was forced to leave the team in March for chemotherapy.

The Rockies announced before their game Sunday at Miami that Bettis will rejoin the rotation.

"To see where he was when he was re-diagnosed, it was hard for us, because he was a big part of our team," manager Bud Black said. "To see him go through what he has had to go through, and to see him work his butt off -- a guy who had chemotherapy, and how that feels -- to where he is now, what a great story for all of us. It has been just wonderful to watch."

The game will be Bettis' first since Sept. 30. He went 14-8 for the Rockies last year.

Marlins: Michael Jordan to have small stake in team after sale
MIAMI -- A person familiar with the situation says NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan has a small stake in Derek Jeter's investment group that reached an agreement to buy the Miami Marlins.

The person confirmed Jordan's role to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Sunday because the parties involved have not commented.

Jordan already owns the NBA Charlotte Hornets. He and Jeter have known each other for more than 20 years and are close friends.

A signed $1.2 billion agreement was submitted Saturday to Major League Baseball for Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria to sell the franchise to a group that includes Jeter, the former New York Yankees captain. Venture capitalist Bruce Sherman of Naples, Florida would be the controlling owner.

The Marlins expect to close the deal in early October.

Phillies set to unveil new ace Jake Arrieta in spring training

Phillies set to unveil new ace Jake Arrieta in spring training

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Thursday starts the one-week countdown to opening day.

Oh, yeah, and Jake Arrieta will also make his Grapefruit League debut.

It figures to be the highlight of the spring.

Arrieta signed a three-year, $75 million contract with the Phillies last week. He has completed a progression from bullpen work — he actually had gotten well into that on his own before signing — to facing hitters in a controlled situation.

Now, it’s time to face some competition — the Detroit Tigers. The game will be televised on NBCSP+ at 1 p.m.

The Phillies have yet to decide when Arrieta will make his regular-season debut. The pitcher believes he will be ready during the first week of the season. The team will exercise caution. Arrieta’s performance Thursday — and possibly more important, his recovery — will go a long way into determining when the Phils turn him loose.

“I’m looking for him to be healthy, first and foremost,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “I would love to see him come out just like he has in his live batting practice sessions and in his bullpens, which is strong, ball looking like a lead fastball, featuring that great cutter and a lot of that great deception.

"We’re looking for him to be Jake Arrieta. Most importantly, most critically and most consequentially, I’m looking for him to be healthy and strong.”

Kapler said the Phils would be flexible on Arrieta’s pitch count. Fifty or so seems like a good guess.

Arrieta has been around for a week now. His teammates are thrilled to have him.

“Obviously, with the Arrieta signing, we got a lot better not only on the field but in the clubhouse,” Rhys Hoskins said (more on him here). “What he’s going to be able to do not only for the pitchers but for some of us young position guys — I mean he’s recently won a World Series, he’s a Cy Young guy, he knows how to compete at the highest level. We have a good group. It’s meshing pretty quickly. I’m excited to see how it goes once we start.”

Rhys Hoskins doing damage as opening day comes into sight

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Rhys Hoskins doing damage as opening day comes into sight


DUNEDIN, Fla. — The season opener is eight days away and Rhys Hoskins says his swing “is getting there.” 

Getting there? Really?

It looks like it already arrived with the morning mail.

Hoskins continued his recent run of excellent at-bats in Wednesday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays. He belted a two-run homer, a solo homer and also worked a walk. Over his last five games, he is 6 for 16 with five walks. For the spring, he is hitting .279 (12 for 43) with four doubles, four homers, eight RBIs, 11 runs scored and an OPS of 1.066.

“What does he have, 10 strikeouts and 10 walks on the spring?” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler asked.

Indeed, those are the numbers.

“That is fantastic,” Kapler said. “Obviously, he’s swinging the bat beautifully and really controlling the at-bats.”

It all starts with pitch recognition.

“I’ve been pretty happy with that throughout camp,” Hoskins said. “I don’t feel like I’ve chased too many, which is always good. I’ve seen a bunch of breaking balls and been able to recognize them early.”

The outstanding selectivity that Hoskins has allows him to work pitchers into fastball counts. He did that in the first inning when he got a 3-1 fastball from Marcus Stroman and drove it over the left-field wall. The ball left the bat at 108 miles per hour.

Obviously, Hoskins was pleased that the ball left the yard. He was more pleased with the swing. He believes pitchers will try to bust him in this season and he’s ready for it.

“I was really, really happy with the first at-bat,” he said. “I had been struggling with the ball in. I was able to keep my hands inside of it and the ball went.”

His second homer came on a 1-1 fastball from Luis Santos. The wind was blowing out at Dunedin Stadium. Hoskins saw a pitch up and took a rip.

“On a day like today, if you see the ball up you’re going to have a pretty good chance,” he said.

Hoskins batted second in the lineup, ahead of Maikel Franco and Carlos Santana. Kapler has juggled lineups all spring and has strongly implied that he will do that, based on matchups, during the regular season.

“I don’t care where I hit,” Hoskins said. “With the guys we have and the way they’re going to construct the lineup, if I hit second, fourth, sixth, I think I’m going to be able to hit with men on base.

“Throughout my career I’ve been a run producer, so that’s the main thing for me. If I can create some runs, whether it’s scoring runs or driving in runs, I’ll be happy.”

The Phils and Jays played to a 7-7 tie. The Phillies’ bullpen gave up five runs in the last two innings to let a 7-2 lead get away. The Phils used 10 pitchers, including two day-trippers from minor-league camp. Starter Nick Pivetta pitched two perfect innings. The team purposely scaled him back to keep him in line with a 25-inning spring target. Scott Kingery and Aaron Altherr also hit home runs.