Manager Matt Williams saved the best for last in his pregame meeting with the media Wednesday afternoon.
Earlier this morning on his weekly radio appearance with “The Junkies” on 106.7 The Fan, Williams was asked about 21-year-old left fielder Bryce Harper.
Responding to an inference that the Nats could send Harper to Triple-A because of his recent struggles offensively, Williams replied:
“So I will caution everybody in this room,” Williams said. “The minute you think you can read my freaking mind, you’re sorely mistaken. OK? 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’m 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 to cause a stir.
“It’s unacceptable. It won’t happen. Is that good enough for you? Next? Thanks.”
This is by far the most emotion I have heard from Williams in the five months he has managed the team, and arguably his most emphatic statement on the subject of Harper. A lot had been written and said about Williams benching Harper for not running hard to first base earlier in the season.
This comment demonstrates how much Harper means to the Nationals right now and how much Williams believes in his young phenom.
Harper is in the starting lineup again tonight.
That comment ended the press conference.
Earlier, a much more jovial Williams explained why Danny Espinosa was starting.
“Right-handed, he is seeing the ball well and swinging it really well lately, so we want to get him in there when we can and make sure that he stays as sharp as he can stay,” Williams said. “It’s an opportunity to do that today.”
Ryan Zimmerman has not yet been able to use the AlterG anti-gravity water treadmill. Williams said that is the next step in the progression back from a hamstring injury.
Wilson Ramos’ family is expected to leave the hospital tomorrow morning. Ramos’ wife gave birth to a baby girl yesterday. Williams said they are unsure when Ramos will be available. He did think that Ramos would probably be at the game tomorrow.
But realistically, tomorrow’s game is a 12:35 p.m. start. The more likely scenario would be a Ramos activation in Atlanta on Friday night. Williams also thought it was likely that Ramos would be on the charter tomorrow afternoon.
Williams said there is no issue with Jayson Werth’s ankle. Werth ran to first base with no problem in the eighth inning last night after feeling a “click” coming out of the batter’s box.
Williams says every starter on offense wants to play every day, so that makes it easy for him when filling out a lineup card.