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Jupiter, Fla. • Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper was ejected Wednesday after being called out at first base in a 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Harper led off the fourth inning with a slow roller that second baseman Mark Ellis barehanded and flipped to first. The throw appeared to beat Harper and umpire Jeff Gosney called him out.
The 21-year-old Harper kept his head down, screaming his displeasure as he passed Gosney on his way to the third-base dugout. Gosney threw out Harper, who didn't seem to initially realize he'd been ejected.
Nationals manager Matt Williams said he asked third base umpire C.B. Bucknor whether they could wait until the end of the inning before Harper had to leave the dugout. Williams said the crew wanted the All-Star outfielder to go immediately.
"I just didn't want him to be embarrassed by him having to walk in front of everybody down the line," Williams said.
The game was briefly delayed while Harper gathered his belongings and walked to the visiting clubhouse beyond the left-field wall.
Fans extended their pens and papers requesting autographs as Harper passed the corner of the left-field bleachers that sit about 10 feet from the foul line.
"We love the way he plays the game because he plays all out and he desperately wants to win so we love that about him," Williams said. "In a situation like that, he has to not take it too far, that's all."
"The umpire told me that (Harper) said something to him," he said. "The question I had is, 'Did he say something?' I didn't see him make a gesture to him or anything, but he said the magic word."
The Nationals didn't make Harper available for comment.
"I don't know what (Harper) said to him, but as he was walking off the field I said to him, 'That was a great at-bat,' because it was," Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright said.
"He fouled off a bunch of pitches," he said. "He kind of turned away and started walking off, then he looked back and said, 'Thanks, by the way.'"
Yadier Molina drove in all three Cardinals runs. Trevor Rosenthal worked around a two-out triple to earn the save.
Around the horn
Angels • Los Angeles has granted right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton his unconditional release, but will still have to pay him $8.5 million.
The Angels made the move Wednesday.
The 33-year-old Blanton struggled in spring training with a 7.08 ERA in five appearances over 20 1-3 innings. He was 2-14 last year and sent to the bullpen in midseason.
The Angels will absorb Blanton's contract and pay him $7.5 million this year, with another $1 million to buy out the $8 million club option for 2015.
Blanton's departure leaves the Angels with 39 players on their 40-man roster and takes him out of competition for a bullpen roster spot. The team's starting rotation appears set with Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Garrett Richards, Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs.
Pirates • Pittsburgh plans on keeping promising left fielder Starling Marte playing alongside National League MVP Andrew McCutchen for years to come.
A person with knowledge of the agreement says the Pirates and Marte have agreed to a six-year contract that will keep the 25-year-old in Pittsburgh for remainder of the decade. The person requested anonymity because the deal had not been publicly announced.
CBSSports.com reported the new contract has a total value of $31 million.
Marte hit .280 with 12 home runs, 35 RBIs and a team-high 41 steals during his first full season in the majors in 2013. Marte was scheduled to make $516,000 this season. The new deal takes him through 2019.
The native of the Dominican Republic is off to a strong start this spring. He is hitting .355 in Grapefruit League play going into Wednesday's game against Minnesota.
Braves • Julio Teheran struck out nine over six innings in his final tuneup for opening day as Atlanta beat the Miami Marlins 9-2 on Wednesday.
Teheran will start at Milwaukee on Monday. He finished the spring with a 1.80 ERA after allowing two runs on seven hits. His only walk was intentional and he threw 71 of his 100 pitches for strikes.
"I'm happy with what I did this spring training and I hope to continue it into the season," he said. "I'm excited about pitching on opening day."
Teheran, who was 14-8 last season as a rookie, worked 25 innings in six spring starts and had 26 strikeouts to four walks.
"I feel good. I'm ready for the season," Teheran said. "I used more my breaking pitch and it worked pretty good. I was happy to go deep into the game. I feel strong."
Miami starter Nathan Eovaldi gave up four runs in six-plus innings. He gave up six hits, walked one and struck out five while throwing 84 pitches.
Derrick Mitchell hit a bases-loaded triple and drove in four runs. The Atlanta right fielder also made a diving catch.
Tyler Pastornicky, coming back from ACL surgery, had two hits and drove in three runs for Atlanta.
Christian Yelich and Ed Lucas each had two hits for the Marlins.
Tigers • In his last start of the spring, Justin Verlander outdueled Cliff Lee, shutting out the Phillies over 6 1/3 innings in Detroit's 1-0 win.
Verlander has been nearly perfect this spring, not allowing a single run in 20 innings pitched. Wednesday might've been his most dominant outing yet.
Only Wil Nieves and Chase Utley managed hits off Tigers pitchers, both singles, for the Phillies.
Lee's only mistakes came in the first, as Miguel Cabrera delivered a RBI groundout after Ian Kinsler tripled. Lee pitched five innings, allowing just the one run while striking out seven. Verlander also struck out seven hitters.
The Tigers did manage 10 hits Wednesday, all against pitchers with major-league experience. Torii Hunter went 2 for 3 with a double. Jared Reaves also had a double for Detroit.
Rangers • Texas says ace Yu Darvish has no structural damage in his stiff neck but will likely begin the season on the disabled list.
Darvish was examined Wednesday by Keith Meister in Dallas. The right-hander will start a throwing program this weekend and won't need any injections.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels says he expects Darvish to be put on the 15-day DL. The Rangers open Monday at home against Philadelphia.
White Sox • Chicago has claimed right-handed pitcher Javy Guerra off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The White Sox made move Wednesday.
The 28-year-old Guerra is 4-5 with a 2.90 ERA and 29 saves in three big league seasons with the Dodgers. He missed much of the 2012 season with injuries and had a 6.75 ERA last year in 10 2-3 innings with Los Angeles.
Guerra spent most of last year at Triple-A Albuquerque, going 0-4 with 12 saves and a 3.66 ERA.
"It's potentially another high-leverage arm," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn.
Cardinals •St. Louis has signed reliever David Aardsma to a minor-league contract, hoping the veteran can fill the team's final bullpen spot.
The Cardinals made the move Wednesday. Aardsma began this spring with Cleveland.
The 32-year-old Aardsma likely leaps to the front of a list of candidates that includes Kevin Butler, Scott McGregor and Jorge Rondon.
Aardsma is 23-15 with 69 saves and a 4.23 ERA in a seven-year major league career. The righty was 2-2 with a 4.31 ERA in 43 games for the Mets last year after missing almost two seasons with injuries.
Aardsma joins shortstop Jhonny Peralta in the Cardinals' clubhouse. After Peralta finished a 50-game drug suspension last year with Detroit and later signed a $53 million, four-year deal as a free agent with St. Louis, Aardsma tweeted: "Apparently getting suspended for PED's means you get a raise. What's stopping anyone from doing it?"