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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Archive for the ‘Misc’

Ellsbury: “They literally haven’t told me anything”05.20.15

Jacoby EllsburyJacoby Ellsbury said he’s still not sure how long he’ll be on the disabled list, and he likely won’t know until he meets with Dr. Christopher Ahmad on Friday. For now, he only knows he has some sort of sprain — he hasn’t been told the severity — in the outer part of his right knee.

“They literally haven’t told me anything,” Ellsbury said. “They put me in a brace and I’ve just been doing treatment all day. I’ll be on the plane tonight, off day tomorrow, go in and do treatment again, and Friday see the team doctor.”

Ellsbury said the injury happened when his spike caught on a swing last night. It was obvious he’d done something awkward on the swing, but the severity wasn’t clear until he was taken out of the game a half-inning later.

“Basically my cleat caught, and that’s basically what happened,” Ellsbury said. “My knee twisted and I kind of grimaced, kind of asked for time a little bit. I went to first base with a walk, and I knew it wasn’t right. I was just kind of hoping it would go away. Got to second. After I ran from first to second, they could tell something wasn’t right. The trainers ran out there. I tried to brush them off, but they still came out there. I told them what happened. Basically, let me run the bases and hopefully it goes away. It really didn’t, so at that point they took me out.”

By the time Ellsbury got to the dugout, he said, he knew he wasn’t in a condition to stay in the game.

“Running the bases, that was just me trying to block it out,” he said. “Just block it out and try to get through it, and hopefully by the time I got to the dugout, everything would have gone away.”

It hasn’t gone away, and while Ellsbury said he can put weight on the knee, he’s been told it would be a significant issue on side-to-side movements. He can’t remember ever having this injury in the past.

“It is disappointing, without a doubt,” he said. “Hopefully it’s something quick. Get back to playing and help the team win. There will still be hopefully a lot of time before the season is over. Until they give me a timeline, I really don’t know. I’m trying to stay optimistic, stay positive. Do everything we can as far as the training room to get this thing back to 100 percent healthy.”

Associated Press photo

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Heathcott arrives but not in the lineup05.20.15

Brett Gardner LF 
Carlos Beltran RF

Mark Teixeira 1B 

Brian McCann C

Chase Headley 3B 

Stephen Drew 2B 

Chris Young CF

Didi Gregorius SS 

Adam Warren RHP

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Shreve on high school teammate Bryce Harper: “He was just unreal”05.20.15

Bryce Harper

Growing up in Las Vegas, Yankees’ reliever Chasen Shreve was a perfectly anonymous high school baseball player, which made him basically the exact same as every other high school baseball player in the country.

With one notable exception: Shreve’s high school teammate Bryce Harper.

“He was just on the cover of Sports Illustrated,” Shreve said. “The first time I met him, it was in a scout tournament and we were playing on the same team. He came from football practice to one of our practices. He had the cutoff sleeves and the big face paint. I met him, he was a really nice guy. I thought he was more of a football player than a baseball player. When he played, he was just unreal.”

In the late 2000s, Harper was an amateur phenomenon, generating attention far beyond that of his peers. Shreve was playing in front of scouts, but he wasn’t known beyond that small circle of evaluators and local fans.

Chasen ShreveShreve and Harper played together on a team that played scouting showcases for a little more than a year, Shreve said. Then they played together for a year at the College of Southern Nevada before Harper became the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2010. Shreve, who’s two years older, was an 11th rounder that same year.

“I’d say I know his brother a little bit more just because he’s more my age,” Shreve said. “But we hang out all the time in the offseason. We go golfing a lot. Go over his house, watch fights every now and then. I see him a lot.”

Who wins the golf games?

“He might hit the ball farther,” Shreve said. “But I win.”

In his fourth big league season, Harper might be reaching that potential that became so well-known when he was a teenager. He’s made two all-star teams already, but this season Harper leads the major leagues in slugging percentage and on-base percentage. He hit another home run against the Yankees on Tuesday, his 15th of the year.

“Unreal so far,” Shreve said. “You can’t do much better. I think everybody that’s known him has been waiting for this, just waiting for him to grow into what we thought he would become and what he has become. It’s just unreal. I’m glad to see what he’s doing.”

At 22 years old, Harper has occasionally come across as brash and immature, but Shreve said that perception isn’t always fair or accurate.

“Everything you see bad about him just gets magnified,” Shreve said. “I remember we were playing at CSN and they kept picking over and just smacking the crap out of his helmet. (The first baseman) just hitting him in the helmet like three times in a row. Then he ended up hitting a home run and points in their dugout, and it got blown up that he did it for no reason. It always happened like that. Everything got magnified, no matter what he did. I think he has handled it well. You can’t be perfect.”

As an amateur, Harper spent a lot of time at catcher. He’s since moved to right field in pro ball, but Shreve said Harper’s background behind the plate — “He’s caught my pitches a thousand times,” Shreve said — could come into play if the former teammates ever faced one another in the big leagues.

Well, it finally happened last night. After getting Harper to popup once in the minor leagues, Shreve struck him out in a big situation last night.

“It came in my favor tonight,” Shreve said. “We’ll see (about) next time.”

Associated Press photos

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What’s next for a Yankees team without arguably its best player?05.20.15

Jacoby Ellsbury

Aside from nagging issues here and there, the Yankees’ lineup hadn’t been dealt a serious injury until last night. Now they face at least two weeks without their leadoff hitter, and it’s a loss that comes at a key point in the season when the Yankees are trying to regain some traction and get things turned around before a bad week becomes a bad month.

A few issues I’m curious about going forward.

1. What happens at the top of the order?
The most natural thing would be to move Brett Gardner into the leadoff spot, but choosing a No. 2 hitter is interesting. Chris Young might fit there against lefties, but who bats second against right-handers? I would say Chase Headley, but his on-base percentage is below .300 this season. Might be a decent fit for Carlos Beltran now that he’s gotten things turned around a little bit (his season slash line is suddenly very similar to Headley’s). Is there anything to the idea of simply moving Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann up a spot? I know Joe Girardi believes in Stephen Drew, but surely he’s not an option for that role, right?

Slade Heathcott2. Who handles center field?
The fact the Yankees called up Slade Heathcott instead of Ramon Flores makes me think Gardner is staying in left field, which potentially sets up a platoon of Heathcott and Young in center. But maybe I’m completely wrong about that. Heathcott and Young can play anywhere in the outfield, and perhaps Girardi would rather move Gardner to center now that it’s more than just a day or two. The really interesting thing will be how often Heathcott plays. He’s a young guy, unproven, and the Yankees obviously what Young’s done this season. But Young hasn’t done a ton against right-handers this year, so maybe Heathcott’s going to get a real chance to play regularly.

3.Will the bottom of the order respond?
One through four in the Yankees’ lineup has been awfully good this season. In the fifth, sixth and seventh spots, McCann, Beltran and Headley have put up remarkably similar numbers. Seriously, go look at their slash lines. They’ve been basically the exact same (including the fact that they’ve each hit pretty well with runners in scoring position). But right now, the Yankees are getting next-to-nothing from their eighth and ninth hitters, and the thinner the lineup becomes, the more that bottom-of-the-order production is going to matter. If Drew or Didi Gregorius — or Jose Pirela, for that matter — is going to get something going at the plate, now would be a helpful time to do it.

4. Why Heathcott over Flores?
I do not, at all, believe Heathcott was a bad choice for this call-up. Not one bit. But I do think it’s interesting that Flores is already on the 40-man, has better season numbers than Heathcott, and hasn’t been quite as bad as Heathcott lately. Clearly the Yankees simply like Heathcott and think he fits this role better, and I trust my old friend Donnie Collins, who wrote last night that Heathcott was “100 percent the right call.” The upper levels of the Yankees’ system are simply overcrowded with talent that’s performing very well. Now that Heathcott is up, will the Yankees promote someone from Double-A to Triple-A — Mason Williams, Jake Cave and Aaron Judge have each been excellent — or will they give Heathcott’s at-bats to Ben Gamel, who’s also been outstanding?

5. How do the Yankees keep from falling apart?
Even when the Yankees were playing well, there was always a since that they were skating on thin ice. Now they have both Ellsbury and Masahiro Tanaka on the disabled list, they’ve lost six of seven, and even the good-luck mustaches have faded away. It really feels like a team that could completely fall apart if things don’t get straightened out and relatively soon. It got a lot harder to do that when Ellsbury hurt himself last night. Girardi always talks about injuries creating opportunity for someone else, but that opportunity needs to go beyond Heathcott. The Yankees can’t bank on a rookie showing up and lighting a spark. Steady offensive production has to come from more than the top four guys, especially now that one of those four guys is out of the mix.

Associated Press photo

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Postgame notes: Yankees move forward without Ellsbury05.20.15

Jacoby Ellsbury

The Yankees just lost for the sixth time in seven days, but the night’s most significant loss just might be Jacoby Ellsbury.

Although Joe Girardi said after the game that an MRI would determine the extent of the injury, the team went ahead and announced that Ellsbury will go on the 15-day disabled list with a right knee sprain. They’ll call up prospect Slade Heathcott to take his place on the roster.

“Is it real serious? I don’t think so,” Girardi said. “But we really won’t know until the MRI.”

HeathcottEllsburyIt’s serious enough to cost the Yankees two weeks of their leadoff hitter and center fielder, and Ellsbury has been one of the elite leadoff hitters in the game this season. He’s currently 10th in the majors in on-base percentage, and he’s tied for the American League lead in steals.

FanGraphs lists him with the highest WAR on the team.

If Ellsbury hasn’t been the Yankees’ best player, he’s certainly been one of them.

“Jacoby is our leadoff guy, gets on base and kind of gets things started,” Brian McCann said. “We’re hoping for the best. I’m not sure what the news is, but we’re hoping for the best.”

Ellsbury had opened the fourth inning with a walk and took second on a ground ball. It was only after he got second that assistant trainer Mark Littlefield came onto the field to check on him. Ellsbury stayed in and scored a run, but he did not return to play defense in the bottom of the inning. The injury itself actually occurred during the at-bat when Ellsbury took an awkward swing at a changeup.

“I saw it when he was hitting so I kind of waited to see what was going to happen there,” Girardi said. “I think he walked and then when he ran to second, he ran kind of gingerly. Then we decided to go out. I went out and talked to him and I said, are you in a lot of pain? He said, no, not really. I said, can you run? He said, let me see, let me get through this inning and let me see. When he got in the dugout, we just said, that’s it.”

So now the Yankees have to get themselves back on track, and they have to do it without a leadoff hitter who’s been one of their most reliable sources of offense. Heathcott can be an electric player, and Chris Young has been plenty productive as a fourth outfielder, but Ellsbury is difficult to replace.

“It’s not what you want,” Girardi said, leaning on one of his most often-used phrases. “If we are going to lose him for some time, somebody’s got to step up. That’s the bottom line. It’s part of the game.”

Joe Girardi, Jim Joyce• Heathcott is not on the 40-man roster. I assume Chase Whitley will move to the 60-day disabled list to open a roster spot. The Yankees face a right-handed pitcher tomorrow, so Heathcott could be in the lineup.

• Andrew Miller had not allowed a run this year before he gave up that walk-off home run to Ryan Zimmerman. Two outs in the 10th, Miller said he simply made a bad pitch. “I can’t do that there,” Miller said. “He laid off what I wanted to throw him. I have to execute a better pitch in that situation. … Not a fastball up and away. That’s kind of what he hits and I knew that going into it. I just made a really poor pitch. It stinks. I let everybody down.”

• Zimmerman laid off some pitches that Miller thought he might swing at. “Honestly, when he laid off those pitches, I need to look at the lineup and maybe give way to the next guy with Ramos on deck,” Miller said. It was a 3-1 pitch that Zimmerman hit.

• Of course, the home run off Miller was the first blemish in an exceptional season. The reliever who had a worse night, really, was David Carpenter. He also allowed a home run, a game-tying shot by Wilson Ramos. Otherwise, Carpenter’s first inning was fine, but in his second inning of work he put two guys on and the Yankees had to lean on Chasen Shreve for a huge strikeout against Bryce Harper.

• Really, the Yankees did an excellent job against Harper tonight. He had the home run and a walk against Nathan Eovaldi, but each of the Yankees left-handed relievers faced him and got him out. Justin Wilson got him to hit into an inning-ending double play in the fifth, Shreve struck him out to leave two on in the seventh, and Miller struck him out in the 10th.

• For Shreve, the Harper at-bat was a big one. He and Harper were teammates in high school and remain close friends. “A lot more serious than I thought it would be facing him for the first time,” Shreve said. “I just tried to focus on the glove, not focus on who I’m facing. Just focus on making pitches.”

Nathan Eovaldi• Really rough start for Nathan Eovaldi. It really wasn’t that bad until the fifth inning, but that fifth was a mess, beginning with a walk, then an RBI double by a pinch hitter, then three straight singles before Wilson bailed him out of trouble. “In the fifth inning I just fell apart,” Eovaldi said. “Walking the leadoff batter after we put up four runs in the fourth, and two more in the fifth, it’s just frustrating, I’ve got to be able to bear down, make better pitches than that and get back to the dugout.”

• Eovaldi allowed two homers in the first inning, but the home run by Harper came on a breaking ball at his feet. “It’s a good pitch down,” Eovaldi said. “But he goes down there and gets that pitch. I’ve got to do a better job of making a better pitch than that one to Desmond. I fell behind, and it’s easy to get on that fastball for a good hitter.”

• McCann on Eovaldi: “It’s about dictating the count. It’s about getting ahead. That one inning he fell behind and that was the difference.”

• Girardi on Carpenter: “He got behind in the count and made a bad pitch. He left it out over the plate, a 3-0 count. He makes some good pitches, then he got behind and he threw one that looked about belt-high down the middle and the kid hit it out.”

• Might have missed it, but Larry Rothschild was ejected in the ninth inning for arguing balls and strikes while Dellin Betances was on the mound. “I turned around at that point,” Girardi said. “I thought I had calmed things down. The next thing I know, he’s gone. … We thought there were some close pitches. It’s part of the game. We yell on a constant basis.”

• Stephen Drew snapped a career-worst 17 game streak without an RBI. He had a two-run single that put the Yankees ahead in the fourth. He hadn’t driven in a run since April 27. … Mark Teixeira’s 12th home run of the year was the 375th of his career, tying Carlos Beltran for fourth-most all-time for a switch hitter.

• Final word goes to McCann: “We’re fine. This is why you play 162 games. You’re going to have ups and downs. It’s a matter of getting out of it. We haven’t played our best baseball here of late, but it’s going to change.”

Associated Press photos

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Curry: Ellsbury to disabled list; Heathcott on his way05.19.15

HeathcottAccording to YES Network’s Jack Curry, the Yankees will place Jacoby Ellsbury on the 15-day disabled list with a knee injury.

Replacing him on the roster will be Triple-A center fielder Slade Heathcott, who’s hitting .285/.335/.358 in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Heathcott has not hit much in the month of May, but he impressed in spring training and had a terrific month of April.

If the Yankees were going to simply move Brett Gardner to center field, it probably would have made more sense to bring up Ramon Flores (who’s primarily a left fielder and has been an even better hitter than Heathcott this season. Maybe a Heathcott and Chris Young platoon in center field while Ellsbury is out?

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Miller finally blows one in Yankees’ walk-off loss to Nationals05.19.15

Bryce Harper, Jose Pirela

The power of the mustache has clearly run dry. Closer Andrew Miller was one of the few Yankees to keep his facial hair heading into this series, and he might re-think that going forward. Miller allowed his first earned run of the season, a walk-off home run by Ryan Zimmerman that handed the Yankees an 8-6 loss to the Nationals. It was the Yankees’ sixth loss in seven games, hence the attempt to turn things around with a new look. Having allowed two home runs in the first inning, the Yankees dug themselves out of a hole with a four-run fourth inning and a two-run homer in the fifth. They were in the lead and seemed to be in control until starter Nathan Eovaldi — who seemed to have gotten his outing under control — unraveled in the bottom of the fifth. Four runs on four straight hits pulled the Nationals back within a run, and they tied it an inning later on a solo home run by Wilson Ramos. The Yankees remained in the game largely because Justin Wilson and Chasen Shreve got huge outs against Bryce Harper in the fifth and seventh innings.

Associated Press photo

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Game 40: Yankees at Nationals05.19.15

Chris YoungYANKEES (22-17)
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Chris Young RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Chase Headley 3B
Jose Pirela 2B
Stephen Drew SS
Nathan Eovaldi SP

RHP Nathan Eovaldi (3-1, 4.14)
Eovaldi vs. Nationals

Denard Span CF
Ian Desmond SS
Yunel Escobar 3B
Bryce Harper RF
Ryan Zimmerman 1B
Wilson Ramos C
Danny Espinosa 2B
Michael A. Taylor LF
Gio Gonzalez SP

LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-2, 4.25)
Gonzalez vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 7:05 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network

WEATHER: A nice day to watch a game in a nice ballpark. Warm with few clouds and little chance of rain.

UMPIRES: HP Jim Joyce, 1B Chris Segal, 2B Marvin Hudson, 3B Chad Fairchild

ZEROES TO HEROES: The Yankees were shut out in their last game. They have not been shut out in consecutive games since May of 1999, and have played 2,596 games since then, marking the longest streak of not being shut out in consecutive games in MLB history, according to Elias. The second-longest streak belongs to St. Louis (2,367 games between 1995 and 2010. Since the start of 2013, are 14-8 in games immediately following a shutout loss. They are 40-17 (.702) in such games under Joe Girardi.

MILESTONE WATCH: Alex Rodriguez has 1,991 career RBI and needs one more to tie Babe Ruth (1,992) for fourth on MLB’s all-time list since RBI became an official statistic in 1920. Rodriguez is two RBI shy of tying Lou Gehrig’s all-time American League record of 1,993 RBI (and third place in MLB history).

WHO NEEDS A DH? The Yankees lead the Majors in all-time interleague wins and winning percentage, going 194-131 (.597) against the National League since 1997. They?are 12-4 in their past 16 interleague games dating back to May 14, 2014.

UPDATE, 7:27 p.m.: Desmond and Harper each went deep in the first inning off Eovaldi. The Harper pitch really wasn’t bad — breaking ball down, out of the zone — but Harper’s really good and on fire. It’s a 2-0 Nats lead after one.

UPDATE, 7:48 p.m.: Eovaldi is through three without allowing another hit. Not a lot of hard contact for either team since that bottom of the first inning. Still 2-0.

UPDATE, 7:55 p.m.: RBI single for Chris Young. Now a walk for Teixeira. Yankees have at least a little something brewing here in the fourth.

UPDATE, 8:05 p.m.: Two-run single by Stephen Drew and the Yankees are in front 4-2. This comes just minutes after I got several messages on Twitter telling me the game was over after a two-run top of the first. Fun times.

UPDATE, 8:07 p.m.: Trainer Steve Donohue went out to check on Ellsbury at second base earlier this inning. Then the inning ended with Beltran on deck to hit for Ellsbury. Now Ellsbury is out of the game, Young is in center and Beltran is playing right.

UPDATE, 8:19 p.m.: Huge double play for Eovaldi, getting Ramos to back into one that ended the fourth. Yankees have announced Ellsbury’s injury as a right knee issue, by the way.

UPDATE, 8:26 p.m.: Teixeira with a two-run homer to push the Yankees lead to 6-2 in the fifth.

UPDATE, 8:38 p.m.: The Yankees are into the Nationals’ bullpen. Gonzalez is finished after six runs in five innings.

UPDATE, 8:45 p.m.: Third time through the order, not so good for Eovaldi. After a pinch hit single brought in one run, Eovaldi let the top three hitters in the Nationals’ order reach base to cut the lead to 6-5 in the fifth. Here’s Justin Wilson to face Bryce Harper.

UPDATE, 8:52 p.m.: Huge pitch for Justin Wilson, getting Harper to end the inning with a double play. Keeps the Yankees in front 6-5.

UPDATE, 9:07 p.m.: Well, this one comes down to the bullpens. David Carpenter allowed a solo home run in the sixth and now we’re all tied heading into the seventh.

UPDATE, 9:28 p.m.: Shreve strikes out his high school friend Harper to end the seventh.

UPDATE, 9:44 p.m.: With the pitcher’s spot coming up second next inning, Girardi had the choice of either having Didi hit or having Alex play the field. He’s going with Alex in the field, Rodriguez playing third base so that he’ll hit second next inning.

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Pregame notes: “Let’s just go a start at a time”05.19.15

Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka will make a rehab start with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday. He will be scheduled for just 45 pitches, meaning this will be the first of multiple outings before Tanaka’s activated from the disabled list.

“It’s a decision that we’ll make after each start when we feel that he’s ready to go,” Joe Girardi said. “I’m not going to put a number on it. Let’s just see how he does with 45 and decide what’s next after that.”

The Yankees won’t say how many starts they expect Tanaka to make in the minor leagues, but pitchers in this situation typically build up 15 pitches at a time. That suggests one start at 45 pitches, one at 60 and one at 75 before the Yankees would seem likely to even consider activating Tanaka. It’s pretty common for them to prefer going one more step and getting a pitcher to 90 pitches before taking him off the disabled list.

Would they really move at a faster pace with a guy like Tanaka?

“Let’s just go a start at a time,” Girardi said. “We know that we have to build him back up some. He has not been out that long, so he’ll go three and 45 and then we’ll decide what’s next.”

Tanaka said he feels encouraged. Ever since the forearm and wrist injuries that put him on the disabled list late last month, the Yankees’ ace has progress as planned. He threw another bullpen on Monday and came through it with no problems.

“Good progress,” Tanaka said. “Should be OK (on Thursday). … Can’t really tell (how many starts will be necessary). It’s something I’ll discuss with the pitching coach and the manager.”

Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild have moved cautiously with Tanaka since spring training. There’s little reason to think they’ll sudden accelerate things at this point. If they’re starting at 45 pitches, then it seems they’re banking on at least three rehab starts, maybe four.

Yankees Royals Baseball• Mark Teixeira’s toe feels fine, so he’s back in the lineup at first base, basically wiping out any chance of Alex Rodriguez starting tonight. “You can think about (playing him),” Girardi said. “But he hasn’t play a whole lot of field. (Chase Headley) just hit a three-run homer off a left-hander. I went with the guys that we’ve been running out there every day.”

• Of course, Rodriguez will be a go-to pinch hitter off the bench. “I’ll try to get him at-bats,” Girardi said. “I think that’s important to keep him going.”

• Also no Carlos Beltran in today’s lineup. That means the two guys who have spent the most time in the No. 3 spot in the batting order this season are on the bench tonight. “(Beltran)’s been playing well and he’s been swinging well,” Girardi said. “You get in a situation where you’re coming off an off day, your two guys at the top have done a great job against left-handers, Chris Young has done a great job against left-handers. But Carlos has been playing extremely well. In this long run, these two days might not hurt him, but it was hard to take him out today.”

• Chase Whitley had Tommy John surgery earlier today. Girardi said it went well, and there was basically no choice but to have the surgery. “The way I understood it, there were only a few fibers left,” Girardi said. “So maybe he had a couple pitches left and it would have been completely gone. It was the right choice on his part.”

• Brendan Ryan is supposed to resume playing games in Tampa tomorrow.

• When Chasen Shreve was in high school, he played on a travel team with Bryce Harper. The two remain pretty good friends and go golfing regularly in the offseason. “I thought he was more of a football player than a baseball player,” Shreve said. “When he played, he was just unreal. He played hard; he’s always played hard.”

• Shreve said he’s faced Harper only once. It was a minor league game a few years ago and Harper popped to shortstop. If Shreve faces him these next two days? “I don’t know how I’m going to react,” Shreve said. “I think we’re both going to smile.”

• One thing that struck me about Shreve talking about Harper: Shreve clearly likes him. In no way did this feel like a guy who felt he had to say nice things about a guy he knew growing up. It’s obvious Shreve really likes him and is happy for him.

Associated Press photos

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Young hitting third for Nats series opener05.19.15

Jacoby Ellsbury CF

Brett Gardner LF 

Chris Young RF

Mark Teixeira 1B 

Brian McCann C

Chase Headley 3B 

Jose Pirela 2B 

Stephen Drew SS 

Nathan Eovaldi RHP

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