The Washington Nationals have optioned top prospect Bryce Harper to Single-A Hagerstown, saying the top overall pick in last year's draft needs to get more playing time to prepare for the season.
The 18-year-old Harper, who hit .389 in 13 spring games, was disappointed but determined to make it back to the big leagues as soon as possible.
“He needs to go down to the minor leagues and get four or five at-bats per game to prepare himself for the season,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said. “And that was the reason we got him out. He was getting one or two at-bats a game here, playing in spurts, and he needs to get prepared for the season and get plenty of at-bats and plenty of reps in the outfield.”
Harper was a catcher for most of his high school and college career, but the Nationals drafted him as an outfielder, and used him exclusively as a right fielder in spring training.
BRAUN LEAVES GAME
Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun left Saturday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix after the top of the first inning because of a strained muscle in his ribcage.
Braun started in left and wasn’t involved in any plays in the top of the inning. After the inning, he retreated to the clubhouse with the Brewers head athletic trainer. He is day to day.
PAULINO WITH METS
New York Mets catcher Ronny Paulino arrived in camp after a three-week delay due to visa problems caused by a 50-game suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.
“It was a long process, but finally I am here,” Paulino said. He is scheduled to catch a minor-league game today.
IGAWA GOING HOME
New York Yankees pitcher Kei Igawa has spoken with his family in northern Japan and is returning home after an 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami hit the country.
The Yankees said Igawa’s family is OK and that he is flying to Japan. In the final season of a $20 million, five-year contract, the left-hander hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2008.