Jul 2, 2014, 12:16 PM EDT
Matt Williams met with Bryce Harper yesterday and then made a concerted effort to diffuse any notion of perceived animosity between the Nationals manager and his 21-year-old star.
“I’ve got to let you guys know something: I’ve got Bryce’s back, in every way,” Williams said prior to the Nationals’ game against the Rockies. “And that will not change.”
The relationship between Harper and Williams was called into question after the outfielder openly questioned Monday night’s lineup, which had Harper (just activated off the DL) batting sixth and in left field, with Ryan Zimmerman moving back to his old position at third base.
Harper said he believed Zimmerman should remain in left field, with Anthony Rendon at third base and Danny Espinosa at second base. Without expressing it explicitly, Harper suggested he would rather play center field, with Denard Span the odd man out in the Nationals’ suddenly overcrowded outfield.
Williams talked to Harper afterward and made it clear he’s simply trying to put the young slugger in the best position to succeed and help his team win.
“I want him to play every day, and I want him to play the way Bryce knows how to play,” Williams said. “He’s going to hit in different spots in the lineup, and he’s OK with that. And he’s going to play in different spots in the lineup, and he’s OK with that, too.
“I know there’s a lot made of it, and I know there’s a lot of discussion about it. But he and I are good. There’s no rift. We have a conversation every day. I’ve got his back, and I support him all the way. I’m happy to write his name in the lineup every day. Who wouldn’t be?”
Harper didn’t make himself available during pregame media availability in the Nationals’ clubhouse.
Teammates seem less concerned with what Harper says and more concerned with making sure he stays healthy and productive, as he was during Monday night’s win, in which he reached base twice, drove in a run and made two impressive throws from left field.
“He brings a lot of energy to our team when he plays this way,” shortstop Ian Desmond said after Monday’s game. “The way he went about his business today, putting pressure on the defense, made a good throw back to first base there … that’s the kind of stuff that he does. When he plays, he impacts the game. But we need him out there every day.”
Williams echoed those sentiments yesterday, saying he’s not concerned with how other players might have perceived Harper’s comments.
“No, I let him know that I support you, that part of my job is to do that and that I admire his talents and the way he plays the game and how happy we are to have him on our team,” Williams said. “That’s the extent of it. That will not change, and there’s no problem between he and I, certainly. There never has been. I respect him, he respects me. Like I said, I’m really happy to put Harper in that lineup every day. Because it gives us a very good chance to go out there and win a ballgame.”
Jul 30, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
And no mention of lester because I legit thought he’d get traded in between the time we taped this and the time it went live.
Jul 30, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT
Orioles prospect Dylan Bundy would probably already be in the majors to stay if not for blowing out his elbow last season, but now the former No. 1 pitching prospect in baseball is struggling while rehabbing in the minors.
Jul 30, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
But the Padres may be playing hard to get.
Jul 30, 2014, 1:13 PM EDT
Earlier this week Pirates manager Clint Hurdle talked about looking into the “mental component” of Pedro Alvarez’s throwing problems in an effort to get the third baseman back on track defensively. And now Alvarez is out of the lineup for a second straight day despite being healthy.
Jul 30, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
Serious allegations made against the current minor leaguer.
Jul 30, 2014, 12:27 PM EDT
A major reshaping of the Red Sox rotation could be afoot.
Jul 30, 2014, 12:03 PM EDT
Apparently, Gibson and Drysdale didn’t have the reputation of Gibson and Drysdale at the time.
Jul 30, 2014, 11:50 AM EDT
According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com the Twins “really want to move” left fielder Josh Willingham before Thursday’s trade deadline, but a source tells him “I don’t think they’re getting any bites.”
Jul 30, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT
The good news for longtime Orioles second baseman turned Yankees second baseman Brian Roberts is that he’s stayed healthy this season after injuries derailed his career for most of the past four years and has already played his most games since 2009.
Jul 30, 2014, 11:07 AM EDT
The Phillies are paying the bills for their dynastic run, thanks in large part to Ruben Amaro’s mismanagement.
Jul 30, 2014, 10:47 AM EDT
Ubaldo Jimenez kicked off a minor-league rehab assignment Tuesday at Single-A, tossing 4.2 innings of one-run ball as he comes back from a sprained ankle suffered when he stepped in a hole in a parking lot.
Jul 30, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT
“We’ve all come to the conclusion that it’s something we’re gonna be battling the rest of the season.”
Jul 30, 2014, 9:46 AM EDT
In which we as whether a certain hairstyle can be more painful than a large tattoo.
Jul 30, 2014, 9:15 AM EDT
Will any GM in need of a bat take notice?
Jul 30, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT
A cliche even more prevalent and ridiculous than the old “If The Boss Was Still Alive” cliche.
Jul 30, 2014, 8:23 AM EDT
It was a long game, but it had a good ending.
Jul 30, 2014, 7:24 AM EDT
The Yankees and Rangers gave us a retro night in Arlington.
Jul 29, 2014, 11:17 PM EDT
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times passes along the fantastic news that Vin Scully will return to the Dodgers’ broadcast booth for the 2015 season. It will be his 65th season calling Dodgers baseball.
Jul 29, 2014, 10:50 PM EDT
Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan wrote Tuesday afternoon that “sentiment among competing executives is unanimous” that the Red Sox will trade left-hander Jon Lester before Thursday’s July 31 deadline. And this news will only add to that thought.
Jul 29, 2014, 10:21 PM EDT
Watch as White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu slugs a two-run seventh-inning shot off new Tigers reliever Joakim Soria on Tuesday night at Comerica Park in Detroit …
- There’s a “very good chance” the Red Sox trade Lackey and Lester 34
- Hey, Rube: Phillies pay dearly for Amaro’s misguided loyalty 49
- And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights 54
- Dodgers announce Vin Scully will return for 2015 season 49
- Jon Lester scratched Wednesday amid trade speculation 38
- Rays are “talking and willing” to trade ace lefty David Price; Cardinals and Dodgers interested 41
- Phillies wanted Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, and Julio Urias from Dodgers for Cole Hamels 90
- Matt Cain is going to pay a visit to Dr. Andrews 8
- Expert’s Corner: How to troll fans of all 30 teams (201)
- “Caucasians” t-shirts are hot sellers on Canadian Indian reservations (198)
- Verducci: baseball should think about an “illegal defense” rule to combat shifts (165)
- Must-click link: sexual depravity — and possibly rape — in the minor leagues (104)
- The Nationals and Orioles dispute over TV money is about to explode (101)