Reflections from a reporter born in 1987

Archive for August 2010

Strasburg to have surgery Friday

August 31, 2010 - 06:22 PM

According to Mark Zuckerman, Stephen Strasburg will have Tommy John surgery on Friday. The surgery will come 13 days after Strasburg sustained a torn UCL in his right elbow August 21 against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Mark says: "[A] second enhanced MRI taken yesterday [Monday] confirmed the Nationals' original diagnosis of a significant tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his [Strasburg's] right elbow."

Dr. Lewis Yocum will perform the surgery in Los Angeles, assisted by Nationals team doctor Dr. Wiemi Douoguih. Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo confirmed the date of surgery while speaking with reporters in Miami, where the Nationals face the Florida Marlins tonight.

"Strasburg will return to his home in San Diego and immediately begin physical therapy," according to Zuckerman. "He won't be allowed to resume throwing a ball, however, for four months."

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Kelly to IR: Season over early

August 31, 2010 - 01:49 PM

The Redskins must cut their active roster to 75 today, and one roster move that has already been announced.  According to TBD's Mike Jones, the team has placed Malcolm Kelly on the Injured Reserve list with a strained hamstring, meaning that he will be out of action for the rest of the season. Kelly missed almost all of training camp, as well as all three preseason games the Redskins have played so far.

Kelly first sustained his injury in mid-July while working out with Redskins QB Donovan McNabb in Arizona. He participated in individual drills in the first practice of training camp July 29. After that practice, he told me that he would be ready to go full speed the next day. Since then, Kelly's had to endure a frustrating regimen of individual rehab. He was supposedly ready to go full-speed yesterday, but suffered another setback. Now, his season is over.

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Lunchtime List: the fix is in

August 31, 2010 - 12:34 PM
Pakistan cricket officials read the match-fixing reports Sunday at Lord's (Photo: Associated Press)

On Sunday, cricket fans around the world (and I count myself in that number), woke up to the stunning news that two Pakistani cricketers had allegedly deliberately bowled "no-balls" (roughly the equivalent of a baseball pitcher deliberately throwing a ball) on the orders of a match-fixing syndicate based in the Far East and a "fixer" to whom a News of the World reporter paid 150,000 British pounds for the information.

Read the whole report and check out some of the videos. It's quite riveting stuff, from a sporting standpoint as well as that of journalistic ethics, but it got me thinking about the most stunning betting scandals in the history of sports.

Format lovingly ripped off from my colleague Jenny Rogers.

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And now, some brief words on Mike Wise

August 31, 2010 - 10:45 AM

I was hesitant to write anything about Mike Wise yesterday because, frankly, I don't have the stomach to join a pile-on.

However, with Wise announcing on his radio show today that he'll be suspended for one month, I feel obligated to comment. Ultimately, what Wise did is not about new media vs. old media or Twitter or blogs or any half-cocked sociological experiment he was trying to perform. What it is about is what the late, great John Hersey called the "Legend on the License," and it can be summed up as follows.

"The journalist must not invent."

I can't put it any clearer than that.


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How much rain is too much?

August 31, 2010 - 09:20 AM
This looks like a lot of fun, doesn't it? (Photo: Associated Press)

If you didn't stay up late enough, the Nationals beat the Florida Marlins 9-3 last night in Miami, helped along the way by a tremendous Ryan Zimmerman home run and Jason Marquis's 5.2 innings of three-run ball, which were good enough for his first win of the season.

Too bad the game never should have been played in the first place. After three hours of a traditional South Florida downpour, part of which is pictured at left, the game went ahead approximately three hours after its scheduled start time with puddles dotting the outfield. In his game story today, Adam Kilgore mentions a single hit by Zimmerman in the second inning that came to a skidding stop in the outfield before Cameron Maybin could play it. At that point, the game should have been stopped due to the unsafe conditions. After all, once the game starts, it's the umpires' prerogative to stop the game and keep players safe, not the home clubs.

There is a quick and simple test that soccer uses to determine if a field is playable: holding a ball at shoulder height and dropping it straight down onto the field. If it bounces, the field is playable, if it doesn't, it's not. Simple (an example is at the 0:25 mark of this video). Perhaps a similar test could be devised for baseball, so that the farcical scenes and needless injury risks of last night can be totally avoided.

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Clemens pleads not guilty, and other mid-afternoon news

August 30, 2010 - 03:25 PM
Clemens leaving court this afternoon. (Photo: TBD Staff)

This is Roger Clemens leaving the federal courthouse in Washington D.C. about one hour ago. He's just pleaded not guilty to three counts of making false statements, two counts of perjury, and one count of obstruction of Congress for statements made in this testimony to Congress back in February 2008.

At the root of all this is Clemens's alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs, which he has always denied and has also resulted in his being named in the Mitchell Report, filing a defamation suit against former trainer Brian McNamee (dismissed), the aforementioned Congressional testimony, and now this case.

Clemens left the courthouse through a side annex, and made no statement.

El Duque leaves Harrisburg. I'll resist the easy joke for Daniel Victor's sake and just give the news: Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez has apparently left the Washington Nationals' AA club in Harrisburg after not being given an opportunity with the big-league club. Orlando's half-brother, Livan Hernandez, just signed a one-year extension with the Nats yesterday. El Duque has not pitched in the majors since 2007. Hat tip to Mark Zuckerman.

UPDATE-5:30 P.M. Mike Rizzo has confirmed to Zuckerman that Hernandez left the club after being informed that he would not receive a September call-up. Rizzo also told Adam Kilgore that Stephen Strasburg is likely to have Tommy John surgery "sometime this week."

And now, your Yi Jianlian at the World Championships Update: Wizards star Yi Jianlian has put up good numbers for his China side at the FIBA World Championships in Turkey. He recorded 26 points and 14 boards against a good Greece team in a 89-81 loss Saturday. Then on Sunday, Yi notched 26 points and nine rebounds against the Ivory Coast on Sunday. Video highlights of that one are here. China are next in action tomorrow against Puerto Rico at 11:30 a.m.

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Photo of the day: who needs special uniforms?

August 30, 2010 - 11:25 AM

There was a lot of discussion last week about the Redskins possibly wearing burgundy jerseys in every home game they play this season (though that has not been confirmed by the Redskins).

But who needs burgundy uniforms when, for the right amount of money, you could have burgundy turf? Check out the field at Eastern Washington University.

Now, I know there's nothing in the rules that says the field has to be green. However, didn't Boise State pretty much ruin the "different-colored field" gig for everyone else?

But more importantly, college football starts Thursday. Get very excited.

Hat tip to Every Day Should Be Saturday.

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Tommy John: 'The surgery doesn't make you better'

August 30, 2010 - 09:20 AM

Yesterday, Tommy John appeared on the Parker and Parker Show on 106.7 "The Fan" here in Washington, D.C., after it was revealed Friday that Stephen Strasburg would need the surgery that is named after the former pitcher. The full interview is here, but some of the best bits are after the jump.

On Strasburg: "I would think [Strasburg] is a product of what I call pitching factories, and I'm sure, coming from Southern California, he was pitching since he was eight, nine, ten years old pitching 12 months a year. He is a product of the way baseball is taught to younger people, and that's a shame.

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A little bit of everything helps Lannan

August 30, 2010 - 06:00 AM
Lannan accepting richly deserved congratulations after yesterday afternoon's outing (Photo: Associated Press)

John Lannan recorded his longest outing of a mostly frustrating season Sunday, giving up 1 run in 7.2 innings and only throwing 93 pitches as the Nationals defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2. How'd Lannan do it? Let's find out.

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Nationals sign Hernandez to one-year extension

August 29, 2010 - 05:10 PM
Livan Hernandez will return to the Nationals in 2011 after signing a one-year extension (Photo: Associated Press)

UPDATE-7:00 P.M. According to Bill Ladson of, Hernandez's extension will be worth $1 million plus incentives.

The Nationals announced Sunday that they have signed starting pitcher Livan Hernandez to a one-year contract extension that will keep him in Washington for the 2011 season.

"We think that he's earned it," said Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo after the Nationals' 4-2 win over the Cardinals at Nationals Park. "Between coming into spring training in terrific condition and pitching great throughout the season and really being a cornerstone and a leader of the pitching rotation and the time he gives with our young guys, it was something we really think he earned and deserved."

Hernandez was signed to a minor-league contract in February and earned a one-year, $900,000 deal by making the Nationals' 40-man roster out of spring training.

"I'm really happy with the situation," Hernandez said Sunday. "It's a dream come true ... I feel really good, and this year I proved that I can pitch for a long time. I want to say thank you to the people who gave me a chance to come back next year and be part of the rotation again."

The 35-year-old Hernandez has made 27 starts for the Nationals this year and gone 9-9 with a 3.49 ERA and a 1.317 WHIP in 175.1 innings. Of Hernandez's 27 starts this season, 18 have been quality starts, or starts in which Hernandez has lasted at least six innings and given up three earned runs or fewer.

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Morgan dropped from lineup after base-running mishap

August 29, 2010 - 12:44 PM
Pudge pushes Morgan back toward the plate Saturday, rendering Morgan's run illegal. (Photo: Associated Press)

Over at Nationals Daily News, Mike Henderson has a piece explaining why Nyjer Morgan has been dropped from today's lineup. As you might recall, Morgan missed the plate in the bottom of the 8th while trying to score on Michael Morse's double in last night's 14-5 Nationals victory. Video of the play is here.


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Rob Dibble to miss upcoming road trip

August 29, 2010 - 12:35 PM

Nationals television analyst Rob Dibble, who has missed the previous four broadcasts, will not be accompanying the team on its upcoming road trip. The news was first reported by William Ladson of

It was originally reported that Dibble would only miss Wednesday night's game against the Chicago Cubs and Thursday night's game against St. Louis. However, the former Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, and Milwaukee Brewers closer missed Friday and Saturday night's game as well, and will not be in the booth for this afternoon's game. J. Freedom du Lac of the Washington Post initially reported Saturday that Dibble would miss the rest of this weekend's series, but might be back by the beginning of the Nationals' next home stand, which begins September 6 against the New York Mets.

Neither the Nationals nor MASN has officially commented on Dibble's absence since Wednesday, when team President Stan Kasten responded to a question about Dibble's absence by telling Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, "Rob asked for some time off. Perhaps he's not feeling well. But I'm not a doctor, nor have I seen his records. So I shouldn't say anything more about it."

MASN spokesman Todd Webster told Mark Zuckerman in an e-mail that Dibble was taking "a few days off at his request." Webster also told Zuckerman that Dibble requested time off after Tuesday night's game against Chicago, unusually short notice for such a request.

Dibble has come under fire this week for comments he made Monday on Sirius XM's MLB Network about pitcher Stephen Strasburg. The Nationals revealed Friday that Strasburg has a torn UCL in his right elbow and will undergo Tommy John surgery, which will likely require him to miss all of the 2011 season. Jerry Crasnick of tweeted Thursday that Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo was "madder than a hornet" over Dibble's remarks. Rizzo has made no public comment on Dibble's absence.

MASN pre- and post-game analyst Ray Knight will replace Dibble alongside play-by-play man Bob Carpenter.


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D.C. Sports Roundup: What you may have missed

August 28, 2010 - 10:45 AM
DeAngelo Hall doing his thing (Photo: Associated Press)

While we all focused on Stephen Strasburg's injury last night, there were other sports happenings involving D.C. teams last night. What you may have missed is after the jump.

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Strasburg injury: summing up a sobering day

August 27, 2010 - 10:55 PM

"Tragic," was how one fan described the news that Stephen Strasburg's torn UCL would require Tommy John surgery to me at Nationals Park tonight. "It's tragic that a guy that young would have to go through this."

I wouldn't quite go that far. After all, Strasburg still has a very good chance (though hardly an airtight one) of returning to the form that dazzled and tantalized Nationals fans for some two-and-a-half months. But what will come between this day and that day (if it does indeed come) is a very long wait.

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Strasburg injury: Tommy John surgery through the ages

August 27, 2010 - 07:30 PM

Now that we've had time to discuss and digest this morning's news, it might be worth it to take a look at some other prominent pitchers who have undergone Tommy John surgery. A few of the more famous names are after the jump (we've already covered Kerry Wood in this post), and the results just might surprise you.

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Strasburg injury: Deja vu for Riggleman

August 27, 2010 - 05:15 PM

Jim Riggleman's been here before. The Nationals manager was at the helm of the Chicago Cubs when their young phenom, Kerry Wood, underwent Tommy John surgery prior to the 1999 season.

Now another prodigy under Riggleman's watch will undergo the procedure, as Stephen Strasburg was set to fly to Los Angeles to begin preparations with Dr. Lewis Yocum tomorrow.

Like Strasburg, Wood had been phenomenally successful prior to undergoing the surgery. In 1998, he'd gone 13-6 with a 3.40 ERA, a WHIP of 1.212 and a K/9 rate of 12.6, including a 20-strikeout game against the Houston Astros on May 6 of that year. Despite missing the last month of the season, Wood still managed to throw 166.2 innings. By contrast, Strasburg will face surgery after throwing 123.1 innings of major and minor league ball this season.

"Kerry could not be ignored," Riggleman said prior to tonight's game against the St. Louis Cardinals. "I believe he was the first high schooler taken in the draft (Wood was in fact the second high schooler taken in the 1995 Draft, but was still selected 4th overall). He dominated the state of Texas in high school baseball. The team took him with the understanding that he had elbow issues."

After a subpar 2000, Wood went on a run of four straight years with an ERA under 4.00 while striking out a career-high 266 batters in 2003. By that time, Riggleman was gone, fired after the 1999 season as the Cubs, who had made the playoffs the season before, finished 67-95.

"Obviously, I would have pitched Kerry less," Riggleman said Friday. "That's why these teams do things the way they do now, it helps you sleep better at night.

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Strasburg injury: a doctor speaks

August 27, 2010 - 02:30 PM

We're not doctors here at TBD. So while we understand that Stephen Strasburg's injury will keep him on the shelf for the next several months, we asked Dr. Brent Wiesel, director of the Georgetown University Hospital Orthopedics Department's Shoulder Service and a shoulder and elbow surgeon, for a more detailed report on Strasburg's injury and what he faces.

"It's a very bad injury to the elbow," Dr. Wiesel said of the torn ulnar collateral ligament in Strasburg's right elbow. "20 years ago, it would have been career-ending. But nowadays, I don't want to say it's common, but it does occur in pitchers and most of them do come back from it successfully."

If Nationals fans want to look on the bright side, Dr. Wiesel says that a shoulder injury to Strasburg would have been a far worse diagnosis for the pitcher's career prospects. "At this point, we have a much better understanding of elbow injuries than shoulder injuries."

If Strasburg does get Tommy John surgery, which is very likely, he'll face a long slow rehab before throwing up to big-league speeds, according to Wiesel.

"For the first 3-4 weeks, he'll probably have it in a splint, to limit the movement," said Wiesel. "Then he'll undergo a series of exercise to strengthen the tendon and increase his range of motion.

"We're looking at somewhere in the range of six months before he can start throwing again and between nine and twelve months before he can start pitching again." Dr. Wiesel added that the timetable could be even longer if doctors use a cadaverous tendon as a replacement rather than one from Strasburg's own body.

And what if Strasburg shocks the world and opts not to have surgery? "I'd assume he'd rehab his arm for 3-4 weeks before throwing again," Dr. Wiesel said. "But if the tendon really is that unstable, he won't be able to throw without pain."

So what does the future hold for Stephen Strasburg and what are the chances of success? "[Tommy John] surgery is generally a successful surgery, unless there's some kind of surgical problem with him. But honestly, we won't know what kind of affect this will have on him until he comes all the way back."

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Stephen Strasburg injury: 'significant' UCL tear, likely to have Tommy John surgery, miss 2011 season

August 27, 2010 - 11:01 AM
stephen strasburg
Stephen Strasburg will likely require Tommy John surgery, potentially keeping him out of action for the 2011 season. (Photo: Associated Press)

By Samuel Chamberlain and Daniel Victor

Update: 4:12 p.m.: Stephen Strasburg announced at a news conference on Friday afternoon that he will undergo surgery to repair his torn UCL in his right elbow.

Strasburg said that he would leave for Los Angeles tomorrow, stating that he wanted to begin the surgery and rehab process immediately. His locker in the Nationals clubhouse had been emptied and cleared out by the time reporters were admitted Friday afternoon.

"It's a new challenge," said Strasburg, who was joined at the press conference by Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo. "I want to be the best at everything. Now I'm going to be the best at rehabbing."

The procedure will be performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum, an orthopedic surgeon in Los Angeles. Yocum is a physician at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic in Southern California, which was co-founded by Dr. Frank Jobe, who gave the surgery its name by performing it on Dodgers pitcher Tommy John in 1974.

Yocum also performed Tommy John surgery last year on Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmermann, who returned to the mound to start Thursday night's game against St. Louis, the first time in 13 months he has started a major league game.

"If I think about it, I'll eat myself up," Strasburg said. "I have to let it go and move on.

"I can't really explain it. I'm not going to try to explain it anymore."

Previous post: The Washington Nationals announced today that Stephen Strasburg, their rookie pitching sensation, will miss the rest of this season and possibly all of the 2011 season after an arthrogram uncovered a "significant" tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. The injury will likely require ligament reconstruction surgery in Strasburg's elbow, also known as Tommy John surgery, though the pitcher will get a second opinion before proceeding. The typical recovery time for Tommy John surgery is between 12-18 months.

The announcement was made at a conference call this morning with Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo and team President Stan Kasten. Rizzo said that Strasburg knew the results of the MRI last night, but the team waited until today to announce it so as not to overshadow the unveiling of Bryce Harper, the Nationals' first overall pick in the 2010 draft.

"He turned from being upset to being really focused and ready to take on this new thing in his life," Rizzo said of Strasburg's reaction to the news.

Strasburg suffered the injury in Saturday night's 8-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies after throwing a changeup to Philadelphia's Domonic Brown in the fifth inning. Strasburg immediately grimaced and shook his hand in pain. After consulting with manager Jim Riggleman and pitching coach Steve McCatty, Strasburg was removed from the game. He had received an MRI on Sunday, but the extent of the injury could not be determined due to the amount of swelling around the injury. Strasburg was placed on the disabled list retroactive to August 22. It was his second appearance on the disabled list this season. He had previously been placed on the DL last month after experiencing shoulder inflammation just prior to his scheduled start against the Atlanta Braves July 20. He returned to the active roster August 10 and made three more starts before suffering his injury in Philadelphia.

In the conference call today, Rizzo and Kasten suggested that the injury was "acute," and occurred on the last pitch Strasburg threw before his injury. As Rizzo put it, Strasburg "was developed and cared for the correct way. We’re good with that. Frustrated, yes. Second-guessing ourselves, no." The Nationals had set Strasburg a strict ceiling of 160 major and minor league innings pitched this season. Strasburg finished this season with 123.1 innings pitched.

Strasburg's agent, Scott Boras agreed with the club's assessment, telling the Washington Post "This is just an unfortunate even that occurs with pitchers. It happened with one pitch. There's no notice to any of this. As far as Stephen's treatment and the conservatism applied by all of us, it was done in the greatest of caution."

Regarded as an extreme method to treat elbow injuries when it was first performed in 1974 on the Dodger pitcher of the same name, Tommy John surgery is now a common practice among pitchers. Both of last night's starters, Chris Carpenter of St. Louis and Jordan Zimmermann of Washington have had the surgery performed. As J. Freedom du Lac pointed out on Twitter, eight pitchers who were named to this year's All-Star Game (Carpenter, Tim Hudson of Atlanta, Josh Johnson of Florida, Joakim Soria of Kansas City, Rafael Soriano of Tampa Bay, Hong-Chih Kuo of Los Angeles, and Arthur Rhodes of Cincinnati and Brian Wilson of San Francisco. Billy Wagner of the Braves would have been a ninth if he hadn't turned down an invitation to appear).

Strasburg was not immediately available for comment, and pitching coach McCatty said "no comment" when asked for his thoughts on the injury by TBD's Jay Westcott.

UPDATE: Nationals reliever Craig Stammen, when asked for comment on Strasburg's injury, said this to TBD's Jay Westcott:

"Well, you know, that's very unfortunate for him, my prayers go out to him and his family. It's a rough time because you don't know what that'll mean for your career and whatnot. He'll be alright. He's a strong kid, he'll be fine, he'll get through it, and as teammates, we will be behind him and pick him up a little bit and get him ready for when he'll come back."

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Mixed results for Zimmermann in return to mound

August 27, 2010 - 06:45 AM
Jordan Zimmermann walks off the mound after his troublesome fourth inning (Photo: Associated Press)

It got lost in the dramatic events that unfolded late last night at Nationals Park, but last night's game marked the first time that Jordan Zimmermann had pitched in a big league game since July 19 of last year, when he underwent Tommy John surgery in his right elbow.

For three innings, Zimmermann showed flashes of his promising self, giving up one run on two hits and striking out three. Then the fourth inning came.

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Bryce Harper makes it official

August 26, 2010 - 06:20 PM
Bryce Harper sits between Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo (left) and agent Scott Boras at his introductory press conference prior to tonight's game against the St. Louis Cardinals. (Courtesy Ian Koski-Nationals Daily News)

Yup, that's Bryce Harper in the middle of the picture, wearing a Nationals jersey given to him moments before by Ryan Zimmerman, "the guy who hands out the jerseys," as Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo called him.

The Nationals' number one overall pick in the 2010 Draft, who agreed to a 5-year, $9.9 million guaranteed contract seconds before the midnight deadline August 16, described himself as a "kid in a candy store," shrugged off questions about feeling extra pressure, and steadfastly declined to speculate when he would be a regular in the Nationals lineup at today's introductory press conference, held about an hour before tonight's game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

"I'm just going to go out and play baseball, and let the higher powers take care of that," Harper said in response to the latter question. The 17-year-old from Las Vegas, Nevada later specified that the higher powers he was referring to were Rizzo and manager Jim Riggleman, as opposed to the Almighty.

Harper, who has not played competitively since being ejected from a National Junior College World Series game while playing for the College of Southern Nevada June 2, is expected to begin playing with the Viera Nationals of the Gulf Coast League.

"From there, we're not really sure," Rizzo said, though he did mention the possibility of having Harper play in the Arizona Fall League after the minor league season ends.

Harper has spent most of his playing career as a catcher, but will be used as an outfielder by the Nationals in the hope of prolonging his career. "I'm going to miss catching," Harper said. "I grew up catching, but whatever I can do to help the club, I'm happy to do. That's the most important thing."

Prior to the game, Harper took early batting practice and hit several long fly balls and home runs, including one home run that landed in the third deck in right field.


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