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Bryce Harper complains about Matt Williams’ lineup

Bryce Harper NationalsBryce Harper did not even wait a game to begin questioning his manager’s lineup.

Harper returned to the Nationals’ lineup Monday after returning from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb. Manager Matt Williams had him starting in left field and batting sixth. Harper was not a fan of either decision.

When asked Monday about the Nats having Ryan Zimmerman play left field, Harper said he was in favor of it.

“I think it’s great. I think he should be playing left,” Harper said via The Washington Post. “(Anthony) Rendon’s a good third baseman. He should be playing third. We’ve got one of the best second basemen in the league in Danny Espinosa. Of course, we want the best-hitting lineup in there. I think Rendon playing third and Zim playing left is something that would be good for this team. I think that should be what’s happening.”

Instead, Harper has been in left both games he’s been back. Denard Span has been in center while Espinosa, who is batting .217 on the season, has been on the bench. Zimmerman has been back at third and Rendon has been at second.

Williams responded by saying he was happy to have Harper back in the lineup. He declined to comment on Harper’s preferences.

Harper also indicated he’d prefer to bat elsewhere in the lineup.

“If I had the lineup, it would maybe not be the same. He’s got the lineup card. He’s got the pen. That’s what he’s doing. So there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m hitting sixth tonight. Hopefully I can be able to get some runners on base in front of me and get some protection and hopefully get some knocks.”

Relax, Bryce. There’s nothing wrong with having you bat sixth for now until you get back in the flow. The lineup is still pretty solid 1-5. But you have to love a 21-year-old kid who isn’t afraid to question his manager.

Bryce Harper wears great ‘I love bad pitches’ T-shirt

Bryce Harper I love bad pitches

Bryce Harper is honest and self-aware if anything.

The Washington Nationals youngster has been in Potomac rehabbing from his thumb surgery and was spotted wearing the awesome T-shirt seen above. The shirt says “I love bad pitches that’s my problem.”

The shirt comes from a website called Routine Baseball. Here’s the fantastic description for the shirt, which is available here for $29.99.

You’re a free swinger. You don’t deny it. Leaving the bat on your shoulder just doesn’t make sense to you. You always say, “A baseball was meant to be hit… and if it wasn’t, then why give me this bat?” Leading the team in doubles and strikeouts is kind of like a draw, right? Time to work on your craft in the cage A$AP.

The shirt is awesome and suits Harper well. He is a power hitter with 43 career home runs and a .273 average, which is pretty darn impressive for a 21-year-old. However, like his shirt says, he is a bit of a free swinger and has struck out 235 times in 279 games. That’s one of the downsides of loving to hit the ball. Great shirt, though.

Photo via Twitter/Eric_Smith34

Bryce Harper wore a Cowboys hat to the zoo

Bryce-Harper-Cowboys-hat

Bryce Harper went to the National Zoo in D.C. over the weekend, and his choice of wardrobe is not going to please fans in the nation’s capital. Harper, who posed for a photo with this fan, was rocking a Dallas Cowboys hat.

Those who have followed Bryce’s career closely are not surprised. He knows the Cowboys are one of the Washington Redskins’ biggest rivals, but Harper grew up basically rooting for every team that was the best in its sport when he was a kid. He’s not the first superstar athlete to support a rival team and he won’t be the last.

Hey, at least Harper wasn’t wearing the hat of another MLB team. Only Colin Kaepernick is brave enough to do something like that.

H/T DC Sports Bog

Bryce Harper using Playstation to rehab his thumb

Bryce Harper NationalsBryce Harper said earlier this week that he is not setting a timetable for his return from a thumb injury that has already kept him out more than a month. The Washington Nationals outfielder suffered a torn ligament while sliding into third base on April 25. His rehab following surgery is every adolescent kid’s dream.

On Thursday, Harper tweeted that he is planning to use video games as a form of rehab to regain motion in his thumb.

He wasn’t joking.

“(Harper) said, ‘I’m not going to rush back, I’m not going to do anything stupid,’” MASN’s Dan Kolko reported, via Dan Steinberg of DC Sports Bog. “He’s more just focused on progressing day to day. He’s still not able to catch balls because of that left thumb, still not able to hit, just kind of going through range-of-motion exercises and he’s going to start using some PlayStation to work that thumb back into gear as he tries to make progress.”

If playing professional baseball means making millions of dollars to play PS4 while working your way back from an injury, it’s an even sweeter gig than we thought. Hopefully Harper doesn’t play too much “Mortal Kombat.” I feel like that could lead to a setback.

Bryce Harper tweets thumbs up picture after thumb surgery

Bryce Harper thumb

Bryce Harper had surgery Tuesday to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb, and it looks like he’s in good spirits.

The Washington Nationals outfielder tweeted this picture Tuesday of him giving the thumbs up following thumb surgery.

Harper hurt his thumb diving head-first into third base following a bases-clearing triple on Friday. He joins Yasiel Puig and Josh Hamilton as star players who have hurt their thumbs on head-first dives into bases, though Puig’s injury thankfully wasn’t nearly as bad as Harper or Hamilton’s.

Photo: Twitter/Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper jogged out another ground ball (GIF)

Bryce Harper NationalsJust three days after he was benched for not hustling down the line on a weak ground ball, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper chose to dog it down the line once again on Tuesday night. Unlike the first time, Harper actually proceeded through the first base bag instead of peeling off toward the dugout. He still gave far less than 100% effort.

Harper, who was dropped to sixth in the lineup by Nationals manager Matt Williams, hit a ground ball to second base and nonchalantly made his way to first. The way he ran out the grounder was hardly uncommon, but you would think he’d make it a point to hustle now that he has been so heavily scrutinized.

Suddenly, the 21-year-old Harper has gone from a player who plays so hard in the outfield he is described as reckless to somebody who doesn’t hustle down the line. Is the quad injury he has been nursing still bothering him? If you read the accusations a Washington Post writer threw around earlier this week, it will certainly make you scratch your head.

GIF via DC Sports Nexus
H/T For the Win

Bryce Harper accused of being concerned with preserving hitting streak

Bryce Harper NationalsWashington Nationals manager Matt Williams made an example out of Bryce Harper over the weekend by benching him after Harper chose not to hustle down the line on a ground ball back to the pitcher. Some felt that Williams should have given Harper leeway since he has been nursing a quad injury, but the manager apparently felt the injury was not serious enough to serve as an excuse.

On Monday morning, Tom Boswell of the Washington Post held his weekly chat with fans and was asked if he thought Harper deserved to be benched. He shared some interesting information that is worth a read.

Within the team it is certainly seen as appropriate.

The team was specifically told several days ago that the next guy who doesn’t run out a ball is coming out of the game. As to the quad, Harper missed a game on Weds that happened to be against Jose Fernandez. Other players always look for “coincidences.” The next game, he laid down a bunt against Wainwright, flew to first and looked fine. After he went 0-for-4, he threw his helmet. Turns out that 0-fer snapped a nine-game hitting streak. Not much of a streak. But teammates noticed. I assume his quad really did hurt him. But the Nats, over the last year, have certainly narrowed their eyes in looking at Harper’s motivations. The enormous benefits of the doubt — on whether he’s really more about the team or about himself or about both — that he got when he was 19 are not going to obtain  when you are in your third full year in the big leagues.

Remember, no manager would do this — it’s dramatic, unequivocal and got national attention — unless 1) the player involved had a history of similar behavior, 2) the organization supported the move and the manager knew that he would get full backing and 3) the team had been “refreshed” on the need to run balls out.

Harper is 0-for-4 in his career against Fernandez, who is one of the best young arms in the game. We know Harper has a tendency to get frustrated with himself, and that would not have been the first time he spiked his helmet after a rough at-bat. The assertion that the Nationals have “narrowed their eyes in looking at Harper’s motivations” is relatively serious.

If Boswell was passing along what he heard from other players, that could be even worse. Harper came into the league with a reputation of being a young kid who is cocky and arrogant, but I personally have always seen him as a team player who wants to win. I’ve been wrong before.

H/T Hardball Talk