This season hasn't exactly gone as planned for the Washington Nationals.
In 2012, the Nationals finished the regular season with the best record in baseball. With nearly every key piece returning from that squad, the Nationals were expected to post a similar record in 2013.
Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case, and part of the blame has been directed toward young outfielder Bryce Harper.
For example, bench coach Randy Knorr called out the 20-year-old phenom following Washington's 3-2 loss to the New York Mets Friday night by questioning his hustle, or lack thereof.
Knorr was referring to a play in the bottom of the eight inning when Harper hit a weak grounder to second base and failed to run out the ball at full speed. Instead, Harper put his head down in disgust while jogging lightly toward first, only to have second basemen Daniel Murphy bobble the ball, and recover just in time to nip Harper at first base for the out.
“The thing about Bryce right now that’s tough: He gets frustrated,” said bench coach Randy Knorr, who had to take over for an ill Dave Johnson mid-game. “I don’t think he does it intentionally, but he’s gonna have to start picking it up a little bit, because we’ve got everybody else doing it. He gets frustrated at times and it just comes out of him. It’s something we’ve got to fix.”
“It’s hard for me to say,” Knorr said. “I’m not 20 years old in the big leagues and all this stuff going on around me. Something that we’ve got to get to the bottom of and keep talking to him, because eventually we’re just going to have to take him out of the game.”
The comments came one day removed after teammate Jayson Werth told reporters that he would really like to see Harper "focus in for a month and see what he could do." Harper noted the eighth inning play after the game by saying, "I guess I'll learn from it."
There has been a lot of problems with the Nationals this year. However, Harper's refusal to run out a routine grounder at 100 percent is not the biggest. But it certainly seems like an issue and a player the media has choosen to fixate on.
Via Hardball Talk