You could excuse Bryce Harper if he wanted to take the rest of the week off.
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The phenom outfielder had a rough day at the office Monday when, with seemingly little concern for anyone's well-being -- you think Mike Rizzo slept at all Monday night? -- he ran directly into the right field wall at Dodger Stadium.
As expected with such an incident, Harper dealt with numerous minor injuries in the days following the collision and reported he felt "terrible" as recently as Wednesday night.
It was a bit surprising, then, when Harper was inserted back into the lineup on Thursday. Organizations are understandably cautious with 20-year-old MVP candidates, so it wouldn't have been a shock to see Harper miss a few more days and possibly even take a short DL stint to recover from his bumps and bruises.
But Harper didn't just play Thursday. In an emphatic answer to the question "Is Bryce OK?", Harper launched his 11th homer of the season to dead center field in the seventh inning to cap the scoring for the Nationals. The right fielder now owns a .298/.393/.629 line, and after pinch-hitting Wednesday night he will go down as having missed just one game due to the injury.
The blast was his only hit of the night, but it was all the assurance needed. Bryce is going to be alright.
Walk Hard: The Rodney-Sox Story
While Harper came back from his run-in with a wall, Fernando Rodney seemed to hit one Thursday night.
The Rays closer, who converted 48 saves while blowing just two all of last season, blew his third save of 2013 in generous fashion. Protecting a 3-1 lead, Rodney walked the bases loaded before surrendering a two-out, three-run double to Will Middlebrooks. The Rays would lose by the same score.
Rodney would have been hard-pressed to duplicate his stellar 2012 season, but the right-hander now has a 5.28 ERA and 1.76 WHIP through 16 appearances. And here's a telling stat from our own D.J. Short: Rodney has already walked 15 batters in 15 1/3 innings this season after issuing just 15 all of last year, spanning 74 2/3 innings.
The good news is that it doesn't appear his job is in jeopardy. The bad news is that means you have to continue to start him.
Garza Good To Go
Just in case Matt Garza's performance Thursday at Triple-A Iowa didn't answer the question, after the game Garza made it clear where he believed his next start should come.
"I don't need another start down here," Garza told the Des Moines Register. "There's no reason for me to stay in the minor leagues."
His stats would agree. Garza threw six shutout innings Thursday, allowing just two hits without walking a batter. The start was his third in the minors as he attempts to come back from a lat injury.
It was originally thought Garza would need one more rehab start before returning to the parent club, but he seemed to check all the boxes with his showing Thursday. Unless management thinks otherwise, Garza will likely make his season debut next week in Pittsburgh.
American League Quick Hits: David Price (triceps) was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list. Reliever Alex Torres was recalled to take his place, with a starter -- possibly Jake Odorizzi or Chris Archer -- likely to be called up to make a start next week ... Andy Pettitte left Thursday's start with a tight left trapezius muscle. It's unclear what this means for his next start ... Andrew Bailey (biceps) threw a 15-pitch simulated inning. When he rejoins the Boston bullpen, which could happen as early as Monday, he should immediately return to the closer role ... Alexi Ogando was placed on the 15-day DL with biceps tendonitis. Josh Lindblom will make Ogando's next scheduled start on Monday ... A.J. Pierzynski (oblique) is expected to play rehab games Sunday and Monday with a Tuesday return in sight. The catcher has been sidelined since May 5 ... Tommy Hanson could rejoin the Angels rotation on May 25. Hanson has been absent since the death of his step-brother in early May ... Aaron Harang was a late scratch from his scheduled start Thursday due to back stiffness. Hector Noesi started in his place ... Justin Verlander tied a career high with eight runs allowed. The 2 2/3 innings pitched was his shortest outing in three years ... Joel Hanrahan underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. As he's a free agent this winter, his short-lived Red Sox career could be over ... Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner has continued to keep in touch with representatives for Robinson Cano about a possible contract extension. If the club hopes to lock him up long-term, they'll have to prove that, once more, money ain't a thang.
National League Quick Hits: Jayson Werth, who is on a rehab assignment with High-A Potomac, suffered a minor setback in his return from the disabled list. He was expected back from the disabled list on Saturday, but that timetable has likely been pushed back a few days ... Jonny Venters underwent his second Tommy John surgery on Thursday. It'll be a long, tough road back for the left-hander ... Stephen Strasburg earned his second win of the season against the Padres. He still trails Cardinals reliever Seth Maness in wins on the year ... Roy Halladay underwent surgery to remove a bone spur and repair his torn right rotator cuff. He hopes to pitch again in 2013 ... Ross Detwiler (back) may have to miss his next start. Manager Davey Johnson said he's "probably not that confident" Detwiler will take his next turn ... Francisco Rodriguez pitched a scoreless eighth inning in the Brewers' loss to the Pirates. It was K-Rod's first game action in 2013 ... Wilson Ramos was placed on the 15-day DL with a left hamstring strain. Ramos was sidelined by the same injury earlier this season ... Tyler Chatwood will most likely get the start Sunday in place of the recently disabled Jeff Francis (groin). He has a 3.14 ERA and 29/5 K/BB ratio in 28 2/3 innings at Triple-A Colorado Springs this year ... Ryan Vogelsong will make his next scheduled start despite his recent struggles. The right-hander has a 8.06 ERA and hasn't won a game since April 11.