CLEARWATER, Fla. — The saga involving Manny Machado and Bryce Harper is now 3½ months old.
At Phillies camp, it is becoming a little annoying, a little amusing, a little exhausting.
The players are tired of being asked about it.
Team officials simply shrug.
No one knows when it will end.
General manager Matt Klentak says he is comfortable that the team has put its best foot forward in the pitches it has made to both players.
“It takes two to tango,” he has said.
“We’re just half the equation,” club president Andy MacPhail has said.
The Phillies entertained Machado at Citizens Bank Park several days before Christmas. Team officials visited with Harper in Las Vegas in January.
The club went into the offseason favoring Machado because he would make a difference not only in the batting order, but also at third base, where he is an elite defender. That’s not to say the Phillies don’t like what Harper’s left-handed bat and box-office appeal would bring. After all these months of waiting, and with spring training underway, it’s now a jump ball between Machado and Harper: Whoever wants the Phillies’ money — come get it.
But when will it happen?
When will the Phillies' love be requited?
All sorts of rumors and could-be’s and should-be’s and might-be’s have floated around all weekend. Internet sleuths monitored private jets headed from Harper’s hometown of Las Vegas to the Clearwater-St. Petersburg airport.
Meanwhile, amid the ridiculousness, Phillies camp goes on. The first full-squad workout is Monday.
There are lockers available.
Machado’s No. 13 is available.
Harper’s No. 34 is available.
Rhys Hoskins still thinks one of them is coming. But even he — one of the most good-natured guys around — is sick of being asked about it.
How 'bout you, Gabe Kapler?
“I know that the conversations (between the Phillies and both free agents) are happening, but I don’t ride the waves up and down,” the manager said. “I’d be thrilled if we had either of those guys in our camp. The roster right now is a much improved one and our guys are focused on that right now.”
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