Bryce Harper seems to have put his early struggles behind him in the Arizona Fall League. And he's taking Derek Norris with him.
Harper went 2-for-3 with a homer Wednesday night, driving in four runs in the Scottsdale Scorpions' win over the Mesa Solar Sox. The 19-year-old is now 10-for-26 in his last seven games, with a pair of homers and 10 RBIs. Harper has also doubled twice and tripled once in that stretch. And Norris, who also went 2-for-3, is 10-for-20 with a pair of homers in his last seven games.
It's Norris' rise that might make one of the Nationals' catchers expendable in the long run; he only hit .210 at Double-A Harrisburg last year, but team officials love his plate approach and he fashioned a .367 on-base percentage last season. General manager Mike Rizzo said yesterday that Norris' receiving skills are improving, as well, and it seems likely he will start at Triple-A Syracuse next year.
In light of that, it wouldn't be surprising if the team is willing to part with Jesus Flores in a trade, especially if there's a team that feels Flores can start. Ivan Rodriguez's future is also in limbo; Rizzo said he hasn't talked to the 39-year-old since the beginning of the offseason, and will wait to announce the Nationals' coaching staff before deciding if it would be worth trying to bring Rodriguez back.