In the 1980’s there was Rob Deer, in the 1990’s, there was John Kruk, and in the 2000’s baseball’s “everyman” was Matt Stairs. The Canadian slugger retired this week after being released by the Washington Nationals. Days later he was back in his hometown of Bangor, Maine playing hockey with his local pals. The Bangor Daily News has posted a great piece on Stairs who talks about his love for hockey, coaching baseball in Mexico, his love for his hometown, and his aspirations to be a manager.
This is a Must Watch video coming from our friend Jason Bristol of WHPTV in Harrisburg. Last night Bryce Harper came up in the ninth with a runner on in a scoreless game between his Harrisburg Senators and the Reading Phillies, and blasted a double down the right field line. The ball was misplayed by the right fielder who then overthrew home plate. Harper never stops and dives into home headfirst without a helmet on to score the eventual game winning run. It’s an awesome sequence. Also seen first in the video is the walkoff pickoff that sent Reading to a win over Harrisburg in the completion of a suspended game, a dancing old guy, as well as an awesome catch by Chris Rahl in game two, but the Harper play at the end of the video is the highlight by far.
Here’s a second angle. Fast forward to 1:40 mark in the video.
Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg is likely days away from beginning a minor league rehab assignment according to MASNSports.com. The 23 year old Strasburg is coming off Tommy John surgery. He is likely to begin his rehab with the Low-A Hagerstown Suns before progressing to High-A Potomac and moving up from there. The former first overall pick back in 2009 created a frenzy, selling out stadiums across the northeast, as he moved through the minors in 2010, going 7-2 with a 1.30ERA in 11 combined starts for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators and Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs. Strasburg made his major league debut on June 9th against the Pittsburgh Pirates and struck out 14 batters. He went 5-3 with a 2.91ERA in 12 big league starts before he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow on August 21st, 2010 against the Philadelphia Phillies and had Tommy John surgery on September 3rd. If Strasburg’s rehab assignment runs smoothly it is likely he will be back in the Nationals rotation sometime in early September, a little over a year after the injury occurred.
Stephen Strasburg should start rehab assignment soon — MASNSports.com
The Washington Nationals have traded journeyman pitcher Jason Marquis to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for Zach Walters. The 21 year old third baseman is in the middle of a very solid season for Low-A South Bend. Walters is hitting .302 with 27 Doubles, 6 Triples, 9 Home Runs, 56RBI’s and has 12 stolen bases on the year. The biggest knock on 6’2″ switch hitter may be his plate discipline as he’s struck out 96 times in 361 at-bats. Walters made his pro debut last season at Yakima of the Northwest League where he hit .302 in 69 games. He was a ninth round pick of the Diamondbacks in the 2010 draft out of the University of San Diego.
The Washington Nationals have traded journeyman infielder Jerry Hairston Jr to the Milwaukee Brewers for outfield prospect Erik Komatsu. The 23 year old Komatsu is currently batting .294 with 19 Doubles, 6 Home Runs, 40 RBI’s, and has 13 stolen bases for the Double-A Huntsville Stars. Last season for the High-A Brevard County Manatees the 5’10” left handed hitter had a breakout season batting .323 with 31 Doubles, 6 Triples, 5 Home Runs, 63 RBI’s, and stole 28 bases in the normally pitchers friendly Florida State League. Komatsu was an 8th round pick of Milwaukee in the 2008 draft out of Cal State Fullerton.
Since 1993 the Philadelphia Phillies have hosted teams of area high school all star players in a summer baseball tournament called the Carpenter Cup. Back in 1994 one of those all stars was current Phillies catcher Brian Schneider. Since joining the Phillies in 2010 after a decade long big league career with the Montreal Expos, Washington Nationals, and New York Mets, Schneider jumped at the chance to chair the tournament. It so happened that his old Carpenter Cup team Lehigh Valley won the 2011 championship, and as a result they were treated kings by Schneider at Citizens Bank Park. In the story, Schneider’s old Carpenter Cup coach talks about coaching Schneider and the experience had by this year’s Lehigh Valley team. It’s a pretty cool read.
Schneider made sure champs were rewarded
The Montreal Gazette just put out an article stating that a group of Canadian businessmen have interest in bringing baseball back to the city of Montreal. This comes seven years after the Montreal Expos played their final game in the city before becoming the Washington Nationals. According to the article, former Expos broadcaster Rodger Brulotte was approached by an unnamed business group who plans on exploring a plan to bring major league baseball back to the city. The story looks at where the group might be able to build a new stadium, explores the precedent for major league teams returning to the cities they left, and talks about the remaining baseball support still left in Montreal.
Expos could be back in town — Montreal Gazette
Washington Nationals prospect Bryce Harper has hit his first Home Run in Double-A. The seventh inning blast came off of Bowie Baysox pitcher Michael Ballard. Harper went 3-4 for the Harrisburg Senators on the afternoon raising his Double-A batting average to .250. He has a combined 15 Home Runs between Low-A Hagerstown and Double-A Harrisburg.
The Cincinnati Reds have traded Jonny Gomes to the Washington Nationals for Bill Rhinehart and Chris Manno. The 26 year old Rhinehart is in the middle of his 4th season at Double-A Harrisburg. He is currently having a career year hitting .289 with 17 Doubles, 21 Home Runs, and 59 RBI’s. The outfielder was a 2011 Eastern League All Star. He was an 11th round pick of the Nationals in the 2007 draft. Manno was a 26th round pick out of Duke in 2010. Since turning pro, the 6’3″ lefty has been a force out of the bullpen. This year at Low-A Hagerstown, Manno posted a 1-3 record with 12 saves in 34 appearances out of the pen. He’s struck out 69 batters and opponents are hitting a ridiculously low .135 against him. The 22 year old was a 2011 Sally League All Star.
This is sure to be a story that will get a ton of publicity over the next few days. Sports Illustrated has posted on their website, Tom Verducci’s latest story on Bryce Harper that will hit news stands in the August 1st issue of the magazine. If you remember it was Verducci that introduced Harper to the world with the cover story back in 2009 with his Baseball’s Chosen One cover story. Among the standout items of the new article is quotes by Washington Nationals director of player development Doug Harris, and minor league coordinator Tony Tarasco comparing Harper’s scrutiny to that faced by Jackie Robinson. The in depth story focuses on Harper’s rise through the Nationals’ minor league system, the backlash he’s seen from opposing players and fans, the infamous kiss blowing incident, buying his #34 from a Harrisburg Senators teammate, and day to day life as baseball’s biggest prospect. It’s a very good read.
Here He Comes: The game’s future is biding his time in the minors, where he’s raking the pitchers and riling his critics. Is Bryce Harper ready? Definitely—but are we ready for Bryce Harper? — Sports Illustrated
UPDATE: Doug Harris the Nationals Director of Player Development who was quoted in the story has issued a statement on his Jackie Robinson remarks.