Matt Williams focused on Bryce Harper’s on-field actions, not vote of confidence

PHILADELPHIA - Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper offered high praise for manager Matt Williams following last night’s 4-0 win over the Phillies.

“Truly, I love him as a manager,” Harper said. “Flat out, I absolutely do and if I didn’t, everybody would know because I’m not shy to say things. Just being able to have the fire, the intensity that he has and the way he approaches every single day. He wants us to be perfect and I love that as a manager.”

harper-high-fives-williams.jpgBefore tonight’s game, Williams shied away from responding to the questions about Harper’s endorsements, choosing instead to shift the attention on what’s impressed him about his young slugger’s monumental progress this season.

“His patience,” Williams said. “The misconception in this game is that if you swing, you’re gonna have results. But that’s not necessarily the truth. The reality of it is if you’re patient enough to get good pitches to hit, then you can have that success.

“I think that proof is there for him. The walk totals have gone up. Certainly, the game totals have gone up. But when those walk totals rise, so do the RBIs and so do the homers because he’s patient enough to get good pitches to hit. That’s, for me, the telltale sign of him becoming the player he wants to be.”

Harper is second in the majors with 112 walks. Earlier this month, Harper became the fifth player in Major League Baseball history with at least 30 homers and 100 walks in a season at 22 or younger, joining Hall of Famers Eddie Matthews (1954), Ted Williams (1939, 1941), Mel Ott (1929) and Jimmie Foxx (1929).

Injuries forced Harper to miss 106 games over the last two seasons. With numerous trips to the disabled list, Harper’s timing suffered. In 2014, the 22-year-old managed to hit only 13 home runs while batting a respectable .273.

A handful of minor bumps and bruises knocked Harper out of only seven games this season. The consistency of playing every day has given him the ability to thrive in the batter’s box.

Harper’s .338/.467/.667 slash line leads the majors while his 39 homers are tied atop the National League.

“I’m just trying to stay healthy,” Harper said. “I still got 18 games left in the season. I’m just trying to stay with my same approach every single day and not worry about if I’m 0-for-4 or 4-for-4 or anything like that. I want to win ballgames and I want to win as an organization. That’s the main goal that we have as an organization from Mr. Lerner all the way down to the bat boy.”

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