Matt Williams scolds media over Bryce Harper demotion talk
Bryce Harper is in the worst hitting slump of his young career. Since returning from thumb surgery on June 30, the 21-year-old is batting just .218. He has five extra-base hits and just five RBI during that span. Harper has struggled so badly that some have wondered if a stint in Triple-A is in order. Just don’t say that to manager Matt Williams.
On Wednesday morning, Williams was asked during an interview with The Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan in DC if he has considered sending Harper to the minors. This was his response:
“I don’t know if it’s a good idea at this point to do that because it’s different pitching,” Williams said. “We all know there’s a big difference between Triple-A pitching and big league pitching. So it’s probably more of an option to have him feel good here and get it back.”
Since Williams didn’t say something like “we would never send Harper to Triple-A,” many took that to mean he has not ruled out the possibility. When a reporter asked Williams about it on Wednesday afternoon, the first-year manager went off.
“I will caution everybody in this room — the minute you think you can read my freakin’ mind, you are sorely mistaken,” Williams said. “It pisses me off to even think about the fact that somebody would take a comment that I make on the radio and infer that I am thinking one way or the other. I’ve had it. Don’t do it anymore.
“Bryce Harper is one of the guys on our team. He’s a very important part of our team, just like everybody else is. Do we understand each other? It’s not fair to the kid, it’s not fair to the rest of the guys in that clubhouse. To even think about sending Bryce Harper to the minor leagues or to cause a stir. It’s unacceptable. It won’t happen.”
This didn’t seem like a case of Mike Gundy saying something negative about one of his players then flipping out to cover his tracks. The only reason Williams didn’t shoot down the idea of sending Harper to the minors during his initial interview is he was trying to be nice. I don’t blame him for being upset.