Opinion

Bryce Harper in Pine-Tar Game, Part 2?

During a media session before Tuesday’s All-Star Game, rookie Bryce Harper talked about how much respect he had for former Royals third baseman George Brett, the Hall of Famer.

Harper, the 19-year-old phenom for the Washington Nationals, may have an unlikely connection with with Brett: too much pine tar on his bat.

According to the Sun Sentinel newspaper, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen was not happy with Harper following Washington’s 4-0 win at Miami on Sunday. Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison told the newspaper it had to do with Harper having an illegal amount of pine tar on his bat handle.

“It was really high the first time and Ozzie did it the right way,” Morrison said told reporters. “He went to (home-plate umpire Marty Foster and said), ‘I don't want to make a big deal out of it. Tell him to watch out for the pine tar.’

"The next time Harper came up and pointed his bat at Ozzie, I guess kind of showing him up. I don't know if that's an ejection or not but (Ozzie) did it in a way that wouldn't show him up, so I guess Harper showing him up is kind of a slap in the face."

Not surprisingly, Guillen didn’t like that.

He pointed at bat of his at Harper and said some a few things.

”I was just telling (Harper) how cute he was,“ Guillen joked. ”Something happened the inning before and I don't like it. I could say a lot of (expletive) about this kid. I've been praising this kid 3-4 times they ask me about him. I say he's a great player. What he did today was unprofessional.”

Harper told the Washington Post he wasn’t bothered by Guillen’s reaction.

“He battles for his team, and that's the type of manager Ozzie is,” Harper told the Post. “That's a manager you want to play for.”

Brett's reaction to being called out in that game at Yankee Stadium in 1983 was priceless. I wonder how Harper, who is known for playing the game hard, would have reacted.

Other tidbits from the weekend:

CARDINALS DONE IN BY FORMER MATES: The Reds swept St. Louis over the weekend. On Sunday, Scott Rolen had a two-run single in the eighth inning that lifted the Reds to the 4-2 win.

On Saturday, Ryan Ludwick hit a homer in the 10th inning of a 3-2 victory. Ludwick told reporters it was satisfying to come through.

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t,” said Ludwick, who played for St. Louis from 2007-10. “I have a lot of respect for them. I was with them a long time and I would never want to show them up, but it feels good.”

WELCOME BACK: The feel-good story of the weekend was in Atlanta where Braves pitcher Ben Sheets pitched six shutout innings in a 6-1 victory against the Mets on Sunday.

The good vibes aren’t just because a New York team lost. Rather it was for Sheets who made his first start since July 19, 2010.

Sheets had two elbow surgeries in his time away and at one point was coaching his 8-year-old son’s baseball team at one point.

“It was pretty incredible,” Sheets told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Honestly in my mind, two years ago I was done, which was fine. I gave myself ‘coach of the year' award in youth ball. Somebody asked me ‘Who gives that?' I said ‘I give it to myself.’ ”

RETURN TO BEANTOWN: White Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis will be back in Boston tonight for the first time since his trade from the Red Sox.

“I'm looking forward to seeing some people,” Youkilis told the Chicago Tribune. “It will be good to see some players I played with and people that have been around that city.”

Here’s guessing that Youkilis won’t be looking for a hug from Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine.

On Sunday, Valentine told ESPN the strained relationship between the two was all Youkilis’ fault.

Youkilis took the high road.

“I got nothing about any of that stuff,” Youkilis said. “I'm over all the Boston thing this year. There's a lot of great past history, but this year, I'm focused on the White Sox.”

COOL STATS

**Oakland’s Jonny Gomes, Yoenis Cespedes and Chris Carter homered in the second inning at Minnesota on Sunday. It was the first time since June 17, 2008 that the A’s got three homers in an inning. Bobby Crosby, Rajai Davis and Mark Ellis went deep during the ninth in a 15-1 win at Arizona that time.

**From Elias: Ryan Dempster pitched six scoreless innings in his victory over the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field on Saturday. Dempster has won his last five starts, pitching a total of 33 innings without giving up a run in those five games. He's the sixth pitcher in modern major-league history (i.e., since 1900) to win five consecutive starts in one season and not allow a run in any of those games. The other pitchers to do that were Doc White (1904 White Sox), Don Drysdale (six straight starts for the 1968 Dodgers), Bob Gibson (1968 Cardinals), Orel Hershiser (1988 Dodgers) and Brandon Webb (2007 Diamondbacks).

**Scott Downs got his first save since 2009 on Sunday, helping the Angels avoid their first three-game sweep in New York since 1995.

BEST QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND

“I was just praying he had a cup on.”

| Texas starter Matt Harrison on all the plays made by third baseman Adrian Beltre, who had six assists, started two double plays and had a putout at third base in a 4-0 win at Seattle

PLAY OF THE WEEKEND

The Padres’ crazy steal of home in the ninth inning Saturday defies explanation. Just know that they were down a run to the Dodgers with runners on second and third and two outs. San Diego came away with two runs on a steal of home. Watch it here:

According to Elias, it's the first time in nearly 30 years that a major-league team has won a regular-season game in which either the tying or go-ahead run scored on a steal of home in the ninth inning or later. On Aug. 22, 1982, Cardinals catcher Glenn Brummer dashed home in the 12th inning, beating the pitch from Giants pitcher Gary Lavelle, to give St. Louis a 5-4 win.

| Pete Grathoff, pgrathoff@kcstar.com

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