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Soriano blames Harper after loss

May 22, 2013, 4:04 PM EDT

Photo by USA Today

Nats closer Rafael Soriano was one strike away from the save on Tuesday night before a Gregor Blanco triple sailed over the head of Bryce Harper in right field, sending the game into extra innings and setting up a walkoff win for San Francisco. Soriano took the blown save, his second in as many outings, but afterwards decided he wouldn’t take full ownership of what happened.

Soriano instead cited Harper’s mistake, saying the young outfielder should have been in position to make the play. Harper flinched and held up right before the wall, an apparent reaction stemming from his collision with the wall at Dodger Stadium last week.

Here is what Soriano told USA Today about Harper’s misplay in the outfield: 

"With two outs and the tying run at first, you have to play the outfield so the ball doesn't go over your head,” he said.Read more »

  1. EmDash - May 22, 2013 at 4:07 PM

    Really pretty stupid of him. There's no one on the Nats the fans like more than Harper, and his teammates aren't going to take it very well either.Hopefully Desmond and/or Werth can have a talk with him to make the point that this kind of comment to the media isn't okay here.

  2. Another_Sam - May 22, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    This is an easy call – see you later, Rafael.

  3. Joe Seamhead - May 22, 2013 at 4:13 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. rmoore446 - May 22, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    This is really insulting: "I could tell my four year old son…"Really classless especially when Harper stepped forward immediately to take the blame.

  5. Joe Seamhead - May 22, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    Joe Seamhead said…OK, this is somewhat a slanted take. I saw Soriano's interview and the first thing that he stated was that he made a bad pitch. What he said about the outfielder's positioning was correct, imho, but the way it's being presented here is being twisted.May 22, 2013 12:13 PM

  6. SCNatsFan - May 22, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    And the good news keeps a comin

  7. EmDash - May 22, 2013 at 4:16 PM

    It doesn't give the full context, true. But did you see the full comments at the USA Today link?"With two outs, I could tell my four-year-old son, 'You know where you need to play,' and he would have positioned himself better. It's not an excuse, and I'm not speaking badly about anybody, but I think that's how you play the game."There's no way that's not calling Harper out in a particularly BS way.That said, Soriano's going nowhere any time soon. He's mostly been fine, and, well, his contract. But I hope Davey and/or the other players get this straightened out soon.

  8. Exposremains - May 22, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    You know when Kilgore does his best and worst case scenario column..well last year was best all the way and this year is worst up to now. Apart from JZim I can't think of any other player on the roster that has been better than last year. I'd say Desmond and Harper(before the injury/slump) are the same and everybody else is a bit worse or a lot worse.They have nothing working for them now. Defense, offense, bullpen(new to the menu-blown saves)starting inconsistent inconsistent, no life, teammates blaming other teammates, management staying pat and yet somehow they are .500.

  9. Another_Sam - May 22, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    Seam he's right (and you are too) but IMHO his job Is to pitch.

  10. Eric - May 22, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    "What he said about the outfielder's positioning was correct, imho, but the way it's being presented here is being twisted."Perhaps, but there's no call for comparing Harper to a 4 year old.

  11. Joe Seamhead - May 22, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    Not only are they losing, they now have a locker room dynamic they steered clear of last season: a potential rift between two primary players.___________________________________________To me this is selectively presenting parts of what the man said, and if there is a controversy it is being created by the press. At the time I watched the interview, it came across that Soriano was taking the blame on himself.

  12. natsfan1a - May 22, 2013 at 4:26 PM

    Hoo boy. Agree that it would be helpful to see/hear the full interview.

  13. Dave - May 22, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    Ugh. Just ugh. The good vibes of last season are just fizzling away in a hurry.

  14. Dave - May 22, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    However, as I think about it, I bet if Harper says anything publicly in response to this, it will be to acknowledge the basic truth of what Soriano said, and then move on. Harper is a star for the long term, and he will end up being a much bigger force in baseball than Rafael Soriano has been thus far. In my opinion.

  15. Rabbit34 - May 22, 2013 at 4:32 PM

    Dave, the good vibes of last season have fizzled away. Ugh is right.

  16. Steady Eddie - May 22, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    Joe,While I don't entirely disagree with you, that's who the media are and what they do, take things out of context. Maybe we'd wish for better but it is what it is and it's futile to bemoan it (not saying you are, just that it would be pointless). After pitching in NYC for two years, Rafi should know that, and should have had the guts to keep it private and say it directly. That kind of passive-aggressive complaining through the media is what does drive clubhouses apart because it says you're not enough of a team to deal with stuff face-to-face. But both Davey and Harper do also bear their share of responsibility for having a wall-shy Bryce playing next to a brick wall in AT&T Park's cavernous RF — which demands that you play there by throwing your body around — rather than the more standard dimensions and padded walls in LF. Bryce's responsibility was in his headstrong "I'll keep playing this way even if it kills me", or at least in not tempering that after Werth said Bryce has to get under control and has a lot to learn. Davey's part is in his "whatever the players want" style. Regardless of what Bryce said, he should have sent his message by letting the Shark take RF and easing Bryce back into his more customarily aggressive OF play by giving him that literal and figurative padding in LF, which is where he's going back to anyway once JW returns (soon, please?). As per my conversation with NatsLady last week, one of Davey's limitations is his tendency to get too formulaic. He needs here to help Bryce help himself. (That's apart from Bryce's bunting. Looks like some part of his injury has really kicked in to limit his power, maybe his knee.)

  17. m - May 22, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    Memo to Mike and Davey:The good old days are rapidly approaching.

  18. mick - May 22, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    "With two outs and the tying run at first, you have to play the outfield so the ball doesn't go over your head,”Let me rephrase this Soriano, "With two outs and the tying run at first, you DO NOT throw a meatball down the middle of the plate on a 1-2 count”Now, I do not like Soriano, he is to aloof, conceded an a selfish no account player and a potential cancer to this team.

  19. mick - May 22, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    hey Soriano, let me add, Bryce Harper has done more in less than 1 season that you will ever do in your no account career

  20. Eric - May 22, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    "(That's apart from Bryce's bunting. Looks like some part of his injury has really kicked in to limit his power, maybe his knee.)"Yeah, I'm wondering if maybe he tweaked his knee when he hit that bomb in San Diego? He was down the next day, I believe, and I agree with others that he hasn't seemed right at the plate since.If that *is* the case, it's kind of alarming, especially since he can sprint on it. Makes me wonder if something happened to a ligament, which could be involved in rotational and lateral movement without necessarily affecting bending and flexing.

  21. mick - May 22, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    Eric, if your right, will the Nats go dumb and play him like the Skins did RGIII?

  22. Eric - May 22, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    I really, REALLY hope not, mick. I really hope I'm wrong, but it's been nagging at me ever since he was benched due to knee issues in the last series.

  23. mick - May 22, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    calling Dr Andrews, lol that would be every fan's worst nightmare

  24. Joe Seamhead - May 22, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    Eddie, as to Davey and Harper sharing the responsibility, I agree, as Harper was positioned too shallow. FP stated several times that the Giants would have positioned their RF in a "no doubles" defense. Why Harper was playing as shallow as he was is anybody's guess, but I can't give one good reason for it. Harper makes the catch and Soriano looks a lot better!Soriano has always avoided the press. Too bad he didn't last night.

  25. mick - May 22, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    or, "calling Dr Howard, Dr Fine, Dr Howard: lol

  26. Steady Eddie - May 22, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    Eric,Hard to know if any particular play triggered the knee. Bryce had had two groundouts and a K before the dinger, and had a BB, a line drive single, two groundouts, and a K the next day. Then he was out for three games and has had all groundouts and bunts since.But it was only after the second game vs the Padres that Davey started talking about Bryce's knee "barking", which suggests it flared up as a general result of his playing. He did get that one line drive hit the day after the dinger.

  27. Eric - May 22, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    Harper out for months would certainly put a damper on things.Of course, it would essentially mean the Nats straight up lied about the MRI results and DID pull an RGIII with him.If it is a ligament, hopefully it's just a strain or sprain and not anything requiring surgery. It would still mean he should probably go on the DL for a couple/few weeks, though.Even more hopefully, it's just a bruise and he'll be fine very soon, if not tonight.

  28. Eric - May 22, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    Thanks for the timeline, Eddie…kinda makes me feel better that it wasn't something acute.

  29. Don - May 22, 2013 at 5:01 PM

    Soriano's dead right. The game was lost on the play. And Harper knows he blew it too. There's no story here. It's just another example of how the club is not doing enough to win ball games. Mental lapses abound.

  30. EmDash - May 22, 2013 at 5:07 PM

    AT&T Park has a lot of weird angles, wind and is very difficult to play right field in if you're not familiar. Soriano gave up an absolute rocket that honestly could've been a home run in a lot of other parks. Harper could've caught it, but it's still a poor idea for Soriano to take the discussion public when it was at least half his fault for hanging a meatball over the plate.

  31. Sec. 3, My Natural Sofa - May 22, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  32. waddu eye no - May 22, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    hmmmlooks like soriano better make another big dinner.

  33. Tcostant - May 22, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    Pure class…

  34. Exposremains - May 22, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    Zach Duke and Maya makes you realize how valuable Lannan was.

  35. Unknown - May 22, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    Soriano is right, Harper was playing way to shallow but why didn't the outfield coach notice the problem. Harper has two excuses. Firstly, he was a catcher until Nats drafted him so he is not a seasoned outfielder. Secondly, he's wall shy after banging into fences three times this season. Soriano's unfortunate comment is just a futher indication that Davey Johnson has lost control of this club. Davey is old way beyond his 70 years so he's not going to get the control back. He needs to be replaced or the season is over.

  36. UNTERP - May 22, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    I'll just say it like this. Team Loss…

  37. Tcostant - May 22, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    While Soriano shouldn't have said it, he is likely correct. You just can't let a ball lget behind you in that situation.We need to blame Davey/Rizzo here a little. You got a 20 year old who hasn't been playing the OF that long. In the offseason, you make him the LF'er. Then Werth goes down and you move him. Maybe it would have been better just leaving Harper where he was and let him learn on how to be the best LF'er he can be.

  38. Eric - May 22, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    "Davey is old way beyond his 70 years so he's not going to get the control back."Seriously. Too bad he can't reign 'em in like he did the '86 Mets back when he was younger…

  39. SCNatsFan - May 22, 2013 at 5:29 PM

    Please win this afternoon… his team needs some good mojo in the worst way. The board needs a little too…

  40. Section 222 - May 22, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    Soriano was totally right. And he didn't even mention that the ball bounced on the front part of the warning track. It was a totally catchable ball. A pretty routine catch for Werth or Bernadina.He was also totally wrong to say it. Let's hope he apologizes to Bryce and everyone moves on. (Yeah, I know, the way the team is playing and feeling, it's not going to happen.) Soriano actually seems to be a very good clubhouse guy, invited the whole team to his house for dinner while they were in Miami, the untucked thing is spreading and creating camraderie where it's desparately needed. This is a very unfortunate hiccup in his fitting in with the team.I didn't watch it a bunch of times, and I was barely awake by the time it happened, but I'd hardly call the pitch a meatball. It seemed pretty well down in the zone. Probably too far over the plate, but still. And again, it was not a rocket, it was a catchable fly ball if Harper hadn't been spooked from his LA collision.

  41. Rendon2B - May 22, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    At least EspiNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOsa is in again today. He must have some dirt on Rizzo and/or Davey to stay in the lineup. He's the worst everyday player in MLB by a mile.

  42. Unknown - May 22, 2013 at 5:34 PM

    Totally classless and prima donna. Who was the one pitching? That's three blown saves in a month and a half. Should've stuck with Clippard and Storen. Same, even better results at a fraction of the cost and zero 'tude.

  43. Eric - May 22, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    6. Moore7. EspinosaWow.

  44. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 22, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    Someone asked me early in the season about outfield positioning and I commented Tarasco worked a lot with Bryce but didn't seem to do much with Span and Werth. After Span missed some balls at the wall, I suggested Span was a few yards too shallow. I'm not sure if it was Span or Tarasco but Span quickly turned his season around and mentioned that he was adjusting more his positioning and he's been incredible ever since. It's much easier to come in on a ball for most outfielders but then there is smart positioning for the corner outfielders. A weak hitter like Baker stroked a ball oppo to LF and Lombo was playing him like it was no doubles in the opposite field not the pull field. The ball fell in front of him and eventually the Nats lost.The same for last night. Harper has to be in "no doubles" in the pull field and shade closer to triples alley. I think his depth was fine but that was really unfortunate.That all goes to coaching and communication and the finer details.

  45. Sec. 3, My Natural Sofa - May 22, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    From the same USA Today article Mark quoted and links to above:"I think everybody in here has seen it before at some level of baseball,'' Strasburg said of the come-from-ahead loss. "You just have to learn from it and flush it. You try to have that closer mentality and go out there and get ready to get them tomorrow.''

  46. do1teach1 - May 22, 2013 at 5:40 PM

    Reached for comment, Harper said Soriano can "Go tuck himself."

  47. Sec. 3, My Natural Sofa - May 22, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    I don't want to encourage this, but that's funny.

  48. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 22, 2013 at 5:48 PM

    Chase writes…Major league players rarely throw their teammates under the bus and this will just make matters even worse for the Nationals. Not only are they losing, they now have a locker room dynamic they steered clear of last season: a potential rift between two primary players. Yes, players shouldn't publicly throw other players under the bus but privately players talk with each other and go out for dinner and drinks and they talk shop, just like all employees do and you know they discuss Zimmerman's throwing, the lack of offense, Espinosa's bat, etc. It's fine to do that and vent to each other. It sucks when your W/L or Saves or ERA or IPs are being impacted by others because one thing all these players have in common is high self-image. Players usually think they are better then they are and Soriano publicly said what he should have kept to himself or his buddies.Davey's issues are piling up. This is not good.

  49. jeffwx - May 22, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    Espinosa's in ????Is he batting cleanup yet ?

  50. Ghost Of Steve M. - May 22, 2013 at 5:58 PM

    Joe Seamhead said… Eddie, as to Davey and Harper sharing the responsibility, I agree, as Harper was positioned too shallow. FP stated several times that the Giants would have positioned their RF in a "no doubles" defense. Why Harper was playing as shallow as he was is anybody's guess, but I can't give one good reason for it. Harper makes the catch and Soriano looks a lot better!Bryce had to play more towards the gap in right-center and his depth looked fine I thought. He actually took a great angle to the ball and had a great jump, he just alligator armed it and pulled his glove down. It sure seemed like he was there to make the play.To me, that play didn't matter in the grand scheme. What mattered the most was the team failed as a team. The lack of clutch contact (not even a hit needed) with 1 out and a man on 3rd was the difference in the game when you talk about degree of difficulty.

  51. Eugene in Oregon - May 22, 2013 at 5:59 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  52. Eugene in Oregon - May 22, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    I'm going to go semi-contrarian here and suggest that Mr. Soriano's 'calling out' (although I'm not sure that's the best characterization of what he said) of Mr. Harper could be just what the team needs — along with some better hitting, of course. I don't pretend to know the psyches of the individuals involved, but if it leads to some frank, inside-the-clubhouse discussions about what's going on, it could prove to be a positive in the long-run. He wrote hopefully.

  53. Kiterp - May 22, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    Espinosa will stay in until Werth is back … unless the injury lingers for a long time

  54. Section 222 - May 22, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    You're a brave man Eugene. Hope you're right.

  55. baseballswami - May 22, 2013 at 6:05 PM

    Apparently Soriano thought it was off the record – so that makes it allright? So very ex-Yankee of him. He is supposedly a veteran closer and blamed a 20 year old, inexperienced kid for his bad pitching. Bryce had the class to wear the blame. And then Davey, who apparently is a hilarious person, said something about wanting to choke Mattheus to death? Because that's an appropriate thing to say about a young reliever who already feels like crap. I am so sure Davey never did anything stupid at that age. Morale has got to be terrible right now and confidence low. This kind of talk from coaches and veterans is not constructive. Are we in Boston? I never, ever thought these kinds of things would happen here. Who is taking a leadership role with Werth gone? Desi? They need to get this crap worked out ASAP. I support my team whether or not I think I know how many games they will win and no matter what I think might happen in October. I feel bad for them when things are not going well because I can relate to that so very much. But sniping back biting I just cannot support. After Monday night's loss, Bryce tweeted support for the people in Oklahoma – that's what kind of a person he is. He is not a kid you need to kick when he has been all kinds of down with illnesses and other misadventures. Maybe that's how it was in NY, but I never thought it would be like that here. Someone in that clubhouse or coaching staff needs to get a grip and start helping to make things better not worse.

  56. Eugene in Oregon - May 22, 2013 at 6:07 PM

    New post up.

  57. do1teach1 - May 22, 2013 at 6:07 PM

    They say all the players took the team bus to Soriano’s house for a nice meal a couple of weeks ago. What was not reported was that he stuffed all his teammates under the bus for the ride home.

  58. Steady Eddie - May 22, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    Eugene, I wish you could be right but suspect there's no way. Passive aggressive stuff is disrepectful, and very fairly raises the "why don't you have the guts to tell me to my face?" response.Even more fundamentally, once you raise the lid on Pandora's Box that way, you've guaranteed a continuing distraction in badgering from the media to keep the "internal dissension" story alive, which is never good.Should have kept it private. As Amanda tweeted, Rizzo's response was "If there's something amiss they should get together and discuss it face-to-face," which is exactly what I said @12:44.

  59. Ivan Tuski - May 22, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    How about trading Soriano to Seattle for Morse at the trade deadline? We may still lose but the losses will be happier

  60. Pilchard - May 22, 2013 at 6:25 PM

    Soriano was correct: a) as it was the ball was catchable; b) with a 1 run lead, a man at first and two outs, idiotic for any OF to be positioned so that a ball could get over his head and bounce before the wall, this was a text book no doubles defensive situation. While Soriano should not have said that the ball should have been caught, Harper diffused it, by saying he should of caught it. This is a non-story now.

  61. NatsLady - May 22, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    Y'know, Ryan Z also called Harper out–today on the radio. Said the bunts, especially the second one, were a "bad idea." Said he should have anticipated that they would walk him (Ryan) and use the lefty to get LaRoche. Much gentler words, but the message was there.

  62. NatsLady - May 22, 2013 at 6:33 PM

    He (RZ) also said, Harper's a tough kid and he will learn.One other thing of note. They asked about his errors. Ryan said, I feel fine for a few days, and then I don't.That makes me think it's physical, and when his shoulder is acting up, it affects his throws.

  63. Secret wasian man - May 22, 2013 at 7:45 PM

    Soriano was brought in by Rizz. Davey didn't want him. How would Zimm like it guys complained about his candy arm? This teams a mess

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