CINCINNATI - Circle 2018 on your calendar as the year Bryce Harper intends to return to the Home Run Derby. Harper declined to compete this time because his father, Ron, is recovering from rotator cuff surgery and was unable to pitch to him as he did in 2013, when Harper finished runner-up to Yoenis Cespedes at Citi Field.
But Harper said he had a "blast" watching the Reds' Todd Frazier win it in front of his hometown crowd, so after skipping the next two pitcher-friendly venues -- PETCO Park next year and Marlins Park in 2017 -- he figures 2018 with the game in Washington should be perfect.
"I'll do it at home, in D.C.," said Harper, whose 26 homers are tied for second in the majors with Albert Pujols and one behind Giancarlo Stanton. "Next two years, no. Stanton will probably win it in Miami anyway."
The revised format for the Derby, which featured a clock and a more efficient pace, seemed to be an unqualified success. The fact that Frazier won in his own backyard didn't hurt, either. MLB even chose to shave an extra minute from each turn, down from five minutes to four because of weather concerns, which also worked out well.
"The clock causes the players to swing at everything," commissioner Rob Manfred said, "so there was a dramatic increase in the number of home runs in a dramatically shorter event. And that is a great combination for the Home Run Derby."
Mark Teixeira took in the event on the field with his three young children.
"The new format's incredible," Teixeira said. "I applaud MLB for being willing to make a switch. I thought the fans loved it, the players really enjoyed it. It was very entertaining."
New policy coming soon?
Manfred and union chief Tony Clark both said that the MLB should have a domestic-abuse policy in place before too long, a pressing matter that moved to the front of their agenda after recent high-profile cases involving the NFL.
"I'm certain that we will have one that we will announce shortly," Manfred told reporters at a BBWAA event.
Clark agreed, but also did not suggest an exact timetable. The current CBA includes discipline for a variety of off-field transgressions, but not a specific protocol for dealing with domestic abuse.
"We are closer than we have ever been to getting something in place that makes sense," Clark said. "I couldn't tell you tomorrow or the day after. I can simply tell you that we're close."
Refsnyder a boost
Given his successful debut in Boston, there was never any question second base prospect Rob Refsnyder was going to stick with the Yankees after the All-Star break -- at least for a little bit -- and Brett Gardner is looking forward to it.
"He's a really, really good looking young player," Gardner said. "He seems to be the real deal. I love his approach at the plate, the way he goes about his business. He works really hard, he plays really hard and I'm excited to see more of him."