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Bryce Harper benched for not hustling on weak grounder (GIF)

Bryce Harper NationalsBryce Harper was benched by Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams Saturday for not running out a weak comebacker to the pitcher during the sixth inning of a 4-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Harper waved at a good changeup that dove low and away and hit a dribbler back to Lance Lynn, who threw to first for the easy out. Harper just jogged about halfway down the line and peeled away without running all the way to first after he was thrown out. Williams responded by benching his left fielder and having Kevin Frandsen replace him.

Harper was 0-for-3 in the game and has been dealing with a quad injury, so you figure Williams might give him so leeway, but that was not the case.

“We made an agreement. He and I made an agreement, this team made an agreement, that when we play the game, we hustle at all times. That we play the game with intensity and the willingness to win,” Williams said after the game.

“For the sake of his teammates, he needs to play with aggression in the way he plays,” Williams said of Harper.

You can watch video of his postgame comments below:

Clearly Williams will not allow the quad injury to be an excuse. He felt Harper didn’t run it out because he was frustrated with his at-bat, not because he wasn’t well enough to. He probably sent the youngster a good message with the decision.

Oh, and DC Sports Bog shared this on Twitter – how great is this ironic Nats in-game magazine cover for Saturday’s game:

Forearm bash to Eye on Baseball

Bryce Harper clubs home run to upper deck (Video)

Bryce Harper home runBryce Harper was in a slump to start the season, but he broke out in a big way on Wednesday.

Harper took a 94 mph fastball from Miami Marlins starter Brad Hand in the bottom of the fourth and sent it deep to the upper deck at Nationals Park for a 3-run home run to put his Nats on the board. He added another hit in the game to give him six for the season and raise his average above .200.

Harper hit the home run so deep, the umpires actually had to confer to make sure the ball did not go foul. They reviewed the homer and upheld it.

Perhaps the person most excited about the home run was Harper’s girlfriend, Kayla Varner, who thinks this is the start of good things to come:

Bryce Harper admits he’s ‘pretty lost right now’ at plate

Bryce Harper NationalsBryce Harper received the day off Sunday to clear his head following a poor start to the season.

Harper, the 21-year-old Nats’ phenom, is only 3-for-21 this season (.143) with 1 walk and 10 strikeouts in five games.

“I mean, I’m pretty lost right now, actually,” Harper said Sunday via Nats Insider. “I’m trying to see where my swing’s at, watch video of where my hands are. I’m trying everything right now. We’ll see where I’m at tomorrow. Give pops a call and see what he says, also.”

Harper doesn’t have an extra base hit or RBI this year, which is a clear sign something is off; he’s a slugger and expected to put up big power numbers.

But Harper has slumped in the past and this is obviously a slump to the season. And if you’re looking for something to blame, it could be that his head hasn’t been right since this incident on the bases on opening day. Harper passed concussion tests, but it may have messed with him.

All in all, you like to see your hitters start off the season well. The general pattern for hitters who start off well is good start -> cool down/slump -> get hot again. But if you start off slowly, the pattern is often reversed, and it’s hard to put up great numbers. Harper will be fine this year, but he might not be spectacular.

Bryce Harper did not get the high-five from Ryan Zimmerman he was looking for (GIF)

Bryce Harper Ryan ZimmermanRyan Zimmerman had a huge game for the Washington Nationals on Thursday. He went 4-for-5 with a 2-run home run in the second inning of the team’s 8-2 win over the New York Mets. He didn’t miss many pitches in the game. About the only thing his missed was this high-five with Bryce Harper following his home run.

Somebody, please help me out and tell me what’s going on here. Is this some sort of joke between them? Did Zimm do that intentionally? Or did he just whiff on it? Regardless, watching Harper stand there still waiting for his high-five was pretty hilarious.

Does this mean Harper is the new Tom Brady?

GIF via @MetsKevin11
H/T Nats Enquirer

Bryce Harper loses fight with a beach ball in the outfield (GIF)

Bryce-Harper-beach-ballBryce Harper had somewhat of a rough start to his 2014 season on Monday. During the second inning of the Washington Nationals’ game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Harper was kicked in the head while sliding into second base. It was a nasty collision and he’s fortunate he wasn’t injured. The following inning, Harper lost a fight with a beach ball.

We’ve seen beach balls make their way onto the field countless times at the ballpark. Most of the time a groundskeeper will run onto the field and deflate them, but Harper decided to be a nice guy and try throw it back into the stands. The wind was having none of that.

Don’t worry, Bryce — there are better days on the horizon.

GIF via @MetsKevin11

Bryce Harper got kicked in the head while sliding into second (GIF)

Many experts have chosen Bryce Harper as their favorite to win the National League MVP this season, and hardly anybody would be shocked if that happened. He just needs to stay healthy. Getting kicked in the head on Opening Day isn’t the start he was hoping for.

Harper was inadvertently kicked in the head by New York Mets second baseman Eric Young Jr. while he was sliding into second base. He remained down for a few minutes after the collision but was able to walk off the field under his own power. He returned to his position in the outfield the following inning. Breathe, Nationals fans.

Bryce-Harper-kicked

Here’s an angle that shows how hard the kick was, courtesy of The Big Lead:

Because of his playing style, Harper had a difficult time remaining healthy last season. He left a game last may after crashing face-first into the outfield wall trying to make a catch. Monday’s scary moment had nothing to do with his style of play, but it certainly isn’t what Nats fans wanted to see right out of the gate. He’s fortunate to be OK.

GIF via @cjzero

Bryce Harper ejected for arguing call (Video)

Bryce-Harper-ejectedIt may only be March 26, but Bryce Harper is already in midseason form. Harper managed to get himself tossed out of a spring training game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.

Harper chopped a slow ground ball to second base in the fourth inning and hustled down the line to try to beat the throw. He thought he made it to first in time, but the umpire called him out. The 21-year-old then yelled a few things — presumably curse words — on his way back to the dugout and was ejected.

It didn’t seem like much, but umpires have little patience for young players who have a history of getting tossed out of games. Harper was thrown out of a game two years ago for slamming his helmet and again last season when arguing a check swing. His teammate, Nats centerfielder Denard Span, seemed to get a charge out of it.

Harper is poised for a breakout season, but he still needs to get his temper under control. He doesn’t want to wind up with anymore nasty injuries like this.

Video via Busted Coverage