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Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr questions Bryce Harper’s hustle

Aug 31, 2013, 10:49 AM EDT

Bryce Harper‘s hustle (or lack thereof) was the big topic of conversation following the Nationals’ 3-2 loss to the Mets last night at Nationals Park.

With two runners on and two out in the bottom of the eighth inning, Harper hit a weak grounder to Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy. Assuming that he would be out by a mile, Harper put his head down in disgust and didn’t run at 100 percent. Murphy bobbled the ball, but recovered and threw out Harper by a few steps at first base.

While it’s possible that Harper still would have been out even if he busted it down the line like he usually does, Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com notes that the play drew some sharp criticism from Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr.

“The thing about Bryce right now that’s tough: He gets frustrated,” said bench coach Randy Knorr, who had to take over for an ill Dave Johnson mid-game. “I don’t think he does it intentionally, but he’s gonna have to start picking it up a little bit, because we’ve got everybody else doing it. He gets frustrated at times and it just comes out of him. It’s something we’ve got to fix.”

“It’s hard for me to say,” Knorr said. “I’m not 20 years old in the big leagues and all this stuff going on around me. Something that we’ve got to get to the bottom of and keep talking to him, because eventually we’re just going to have to take him out of the game.”

This comes one day after teammate Jayson Werth told reporters that he’d really like to see Harper “settle in” and “focus in for a month and see what he could do.” Harper addressed the eighth inning play after the game by saying, “I guess I’ll learn from it.”

To be fair, there were other reasons the Nationals lost last night. In fact, the key play of the game occurred in the top of the eighth inning when third baseman Ryan Zimmerman made an ill-advised off-balance throw which allowed Daniel Murphy to score what proved to be the winning run. Zimmerman defended his decision after the game by saying he’d “throw that every time” and that Murphy would have been out at home plate if Adam LaRoche was able to field his wild throw. But that’s not nearly as fun to talk about, is it?

  1. dondada10 - Aug 31, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    If I hit a weak grounder to Daniel Murphy the first thing I would think is, “Oh shit, this is 50/50.”

  2. proudlycanadian - Aug 31, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    Clown play Harper!

    • ditto65 - Aug 31, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      Is “Harper” synonymous with “bro”?

    • apkyletexas - Aug 31, 2013 at 12:38 PM

      Harper and Puig – see what happens when you don’t have to cut your teeth in the minors like the rest of your teammates?

      It’s called a lack of focus, a lack of discipline — and clowning. It must suck to be one of the other players, busting your balls on every play, but not knowing what you are going to get from Yasiel or from Bryce on any given play.

      If they had to fight their way up from the bottom of the minors, they would respect the game.

      • stex52 - Aug 31, 2013 at 12:52 PM

        That’s a curious argument to make, since earlier in the season they were telling him to slow down and not get himself hurt so much.

        And while we are at it, “doesn’t respect the game.” Definition, please.

      • yahmule - Aug 31, 2013 at 1:31 PM

        Both of those guys played in the minors.

      • apkyletexas - Aug 31, 2013 at 3:03 PM

        @stex – yes, that was mentioned in the linked article – that earlier they had to slow him down. But the coach also said that Harper has had a consistent problem of not giving correct effort level enough of the time. He said they basically get correct effort 95% to 99% of the time from him, but not 100%.

        @yahmule – I’m talking about proving yourself at every level of the American minor league system — prove that you’ve got the skills and dedication required to succeed at rookie ball, A ball, AA, AAA – and don’t get moved up until you show you can succeed at each level. Harper was fast-tracked to the big leagues. Yasiel – I don’t know what he did in the minors or where he did it, but certainly not what I am referring to.

      • kinggw - Aug 31, 2013 at 5:19 PM

        @apkyletexas, Knorr never said that Harper has had a consistent problem not giving correct effort and Desmond made the 95% to 99% comment. If he did, that would be incorrect. Harper brings it every night, you’d probably can count the number of times he hasn’t hustled throughout his brief career on one hand.

        What happened last night was more a case of frustration, than a lack of hustle. It was a huge at bat for the Nats and Harper was obviously disappointed that he hit didnt come through. He should have ran hard from the start, but his reaction is understandable given the magnitude of what the Nats are trying to do. Every game counts and every player on the team knows it.

      • Reflex - Aug 31, 2013 at 8:15 PM

        No shit. Imagine what kind of career that kid Griffey could have had if only he’d spent another three years in the minors proving he had the skills to play? And Trout? Who does he think he is, snot nosed kid, already thinking he’s a proven major leaguer. Fuck them, they should be gritting it out on busses playing against far inferior competition in lower leagues so that fans can’t make up their own narratives about them lacking dedication.

  3. jaysfan64 - Aug 31, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    Ryan Goins hit grounders twice last night vs. Royals and probably thought he was out too..he busted it down the line each time, was safe, and scored 2 runs…hustle wins games…

  4. misterj167 - Aug 31, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    Mark Judge

    • misterj167 - Aug 31, 2013 at 11:27 AM

      That should say “No one tell Mark Judge

      Edit function!

  5. heyblueyoustink - Aug 31, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    No, not the untouchable demigod Harper? Say it ain’t so!

  6. psunick - Aug 31, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    Robinson Cano doesn’t have to hustle on ground balls; why should Harper?

    • Glenn - Aug 31, 2013 at 12:51 PM

      David Ortiz turns doubles into singles watching home runs fall a little short. He never gets called out or criticized for it.

    • vageekdom - Sep 1, 2013 at 5:47 PM

      Two different situations.

  7. emdash01 - Aug 31, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    Knorr seems to me to be politicking for the managerial job with this – Rizzo seems to like the tough talk, so by god, he’ll show everyone how tough he’ll be on the players.

    As for me, I’d really enjoy a boring, no-drama manager. The goal should be, when dealing with reporters, not to make more negative headlines. Say the boring manager cliches that are classics for a reason, and handle this stuff in-house. Don’t get caught up in trying to impress the reporters with how clever (Davey) or tough (Knorr) you are. It can’t possibly be as hard as these guys make it seem.

    • stex52 - Aug 31, 2013 at 1:59 PM

      Bingo. Any new manager will want his own bench coach. Randy is looking at promotion or unemployment. And, given the Nats’ underperformance this year, calling out a player may appear to be a good move.

    • km9000 - Aug 31, 2013 at 5:58 PM

      You can have Mike “Turn the Page/Tip Your Cap” Scioscia.

  8. luz56 - Aug 31, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    And who is Randy Knorr??? Isn’t he part of the nationals fiasco this year

  9. modellforprez - Sep 1, 2013 at 12:19 AM

    went from Nasty Harp to Nationals trash had a spark when he started but now he is just Garbage….

  10. vageekdom - Sep 1, 2013 at 5:46 PM

    “The thing about Bryce right now that’s tough: He gets frustrated,” said bench coach Randy Knorr, who had to take over for an ill Dave Johnson mid-game. “I don’t think he does it intentionally, but he’s gonna have to start picking it up a little bit, because we’ve got everybody else doing it” Really? If the rest of the team was “picking it up a bit” they wouldn’t be 15 games back in the NL East and 7.5 games back in the wildcard standings lol are you kidding me Randy Knorr? maybe you should evaluate your job performance as a coach its obvious you are doing one shitty job. LMAO

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