Skip to content

Nationals manager Matt Williams: “I’ve got Bryce’s back, in every way”

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.”

Latest Posts
  1. Twins GM Terry Ryan noncommittal about callup of top pitching prospect Jose Berrios

    Sep 1, 2015, 11:34 PM EDT

    jose berrios getty Getty Images

    Would it endanger or enlighten Berrios’ career to give him a few starts in a postseason race?

  2. Cal Ripken Jr. throws out first pitch on 20th anniversary of breaking Lou Gehrig’s record

    Sep 1, 2015, 10:49 PM EDT

    Cal Ripken Jr AP

    It was Cal Ripken Jr. Night on Tuesday at Baltimore’s Camden Yards, with the Orioles celebrating the 20th anniversary of Ripken taking over Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played …

  3. Giancarlo Stanton now doubtful to return Friday

    Sep 1, 2015, 10:05 PM EDT

    Giancarlo Stanton AP

    Stanton has been on the disabled list since June 27 because of a broken hamate bone in his right hand.

  4. Video: Manny Machado becomes youngest player in Orioles history to reach 100 doubles

    Sep 1, 2015, 9:12 PM EDT

    Minnesota Twins at Baltimore Orioles Getty Images

    And he did it on the night the O’s are celebrating the 20th anniversary of Cal Ripken breaking Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played.

  5. Hanley Ramirez won’t play any more outfield for Red Sox

    Sep 1, 2015, 7:44 PM EDT

    Hanley Ramirez AP

    The reworking of the Red Sox has already begun under new club president Dave Dombrowski.

  6. Video: Rockies turn triple play on Paul Goldschmidt

    Sep 1, 2015, 6:51 PM EDT

    Paul Goldschmidt Paul Goldschmidt

    It was a rather uneventful triple play as far as triple plays go, but cool and rare nonetheless …

  7. Cubs designate Rafael Soriano, James Russell for assignment

    Sep 1, 2015, 6:07 PM EDT

    cubs logo

    From beat writer Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com …

  8. Yankees reveal Mark Teixeira’s shin injury is “more than we thought”

    Sep 1, 2015, 5:17 PM EDT

    Mark Teixeira Yankees AP

    Teixeira has started just one game since fouling a ball off his shin two weeks ago.

  9. There’s a chicken pox outbreak in the Royals’ clubhouse and multiple players are infected

    Sep 1, 2015, 4:54 PM EDT

    Alex Rios AP

    Kelvin Herrera and Alex Rios are already infected and will could miss up to two weeks.

  10. Braves call up $62.5 million Cuban infielder Hector Olivera

    Sep 1, 2015, 2:39 PM EDT

    Hector Olivera AP

    Olivera was traded from the Dodgers to the Braves as part of July’s three-team, 13-player deal.

  11. Andrew Bailey is back in the big leagues with the Yankees

    Sep 1, 2015, 12:14 PM EDT

    Detroit Tigers v Oakland Athletics Getty Images

    Former Rookie of the Year and All-Star closer.

  12. The Dodgers acquired Chris Heisey from Toronto last night

    Sep 1, 2015, 11:50 AM EDT

    dodgers logo

    Wait — he wasn’t with the Dodgers already?

  13. John Kruk is a fan of Jessica Mendoza

    Sep 1, 2015, 11:28 AM EDT

    Jessica Mendoza Getty Images

    “It wouldn’t surprise me if Jessica’s a regular on Sunday, Monday or Wednesday night baseball, whenever the time comes,” Kruk said.

  14. Wanna buy Babe Ruth’s apartment?

    Sep 1, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Ruth Called Shot Baseball

    It’s pretty nice. But it also cost $1.6M.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. G. Stanton (2519)
  2. C. Correa (2517)
  3. Y. Puig (2512)
  4. B. Crawford (2402)
  5. H. Pence (2273)
  1. G. Springer (2224)
  2. H. Ramirez (2157)
  3. M. Teixeira (2144)
  4. J. Hamilton (2126)
  5. J. Baez (2096)