Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper is scuffling just a bit to begin the season. Manager Matt Williams is not worried about Harper, saying his 21-year-old left fielder has seemed just a "tick off" at the plate the last few days.
Williams said Harper might be bit frustrated with the slow start at the plate, as he's just 3-for-17 (.176) with no homers and no RBIs in four games. But that does not mean he tosses his whole approach out and reconstructs his swing. It is only April 5.
"Everybody gets frustrated," Williams said. "But there is also the ability within Bryce to go a month where they just can't get him out either. And he knows that. I think that everybody that watches the game knows that. We certainly do.
"Yeah, that frustration creeps in. He plays with a lot of emotion. That is a good thing. So when it is not going as planned for him, you are going to see that emotion. But you also see it when it is going good, too."
Williams decided to place Harper second in the lineup against Braves right-handed starter Julio Teheran to maybe allow his young star a chance to get going quickly. Harper has done well versus Teheran, going 5-for-10 in 12 plate appearances with two doubles, two homers, three RBIs, one walk, one HBP and two strikeouts. Harper has a 1.300 slugging percentage against Teheran and a 1.883 on-base plus slugging percentage.
"Right now, he is, like we talked about yesterday, a tick off with his timing," Williams said. "He is missing some balls that he normally hits. That happens. So it often takes one swing to get it all back. He is eager to play every day. He wants to play every day, and certainly wants to get going just like everybody wants him to get going. It will happen. Hopefully it is tonight. He has had good success against Teheran."
But frustration and total panic are two emotions that are far apart. Williams believes Harper is getting good hacks in the box, and has not lost all rhythm in his approach. He just needs one hit to get something going.
"It is one thing if you are not seeing the ball and you are off timing and you are swinging at bad breaking balls in the dirt," Williams said. "But he is missing pitches that he normally hits. I think he will be fine. It is just a question of when. And we hope it is tonight. So does he. He is fiery in that regard. That is a good thing.
"There is often times you walk up there and you feel like you are 0-2 before you even step in the box. I don't think it is that right now for him. I think it is just a question of him being a little off timing. because he has got a lot of those and he is fouling them back. What do you do in that regard? Well, you keep putting him in there because eventually it is going to turn, and when it does, it is special. Just keep trying to get him opportunities."