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Williams quashes Harper-to-minors talk

Aug 6, 2014, 6:09 PM EDT

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Matt Williams quashed any speculation the Nationals would consider demoting the struggling Bryce Harper to the minors on Wednesday afternoon, criticizing reporters who may have thought his words on the subject during an earlier radio interview suggested it was a possibility.

“I will caution everybody in this room: The minute you think you can read my freaking mind, you’re sorely mistaken, OK?” Williams said when asked if a Harper demotion is within the realm of possibility right now. “It [ticks] me off to even think about the fact that somebody would take a comment I make on the radio and infer that I’m thinking one way or the other. I’ve had it. Don’t do it any more.

“Bryce Harper’s 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 other guys in that clubhouse, to even think about sending Bryce Harper to the minor leagues, or to cause a stir. It’s unacceptable. It won’t happen.”

Williams had been less committal when asked a similar question Wednesday morning during his weekly appearance on 106.7 FM.

“Is it a terrible idea — just a wacky idea — to send him down to Syracuse for a week, just to get him right? Is that just a stupid idea on my part?” the manager was asked.

“I don’t know,” Williams replied. “I don’t think it’s stupid. Generally, if you have young players, that’s what you do. But this guy is a special young player. We all know that. It’s different. I think he works hard every day. He’s the first one in the ballpark, generally, to get his day going. He’s grinding. We’re doing everything we can to get a good feel going in there and help him with his confidence and all that. It’s not easy, by any stretch. But I don’t know if it’s a good idea at this point to do that, because it’s completely different pitching. We all know the big difference between Triple-A pitching and big-league pitching. It’s probably more of an option to have him feel good here, get it back. We’ve seen him, certainly, good and hitting well. For me, it’s not necessarily that he can’t hit, of course. It is that he’s in some kind of a slump. What we have to do is try to work our way through it and get him out of it as quickly as possible. He grinds every day, you guys. He’s doing everything we can to get out of it, and so are we.”

Harper enters Wednesday night’s game against the Mets hitting .249 with three homers, 14 RBI and a .692 OPS that ranks 181st out of 286 major-league hitters with at as many plate appearances this season.

  1. David Proctor - Aug 6, 2014 at 6:33 PM

    Good for Matt, but I don’t see his radio response as non-committal. He was trying not to offend the host, who called his own question stupid. It was obvious. It’s a shame the media has turned this into a thing and he has every right to be pissed. It was clear what his intent was and it was misconstrued.

    • letswin3 - Aug 6, 2014 at 6:42 PM

      I read the dialog the same way you did ….. he just didn’t want to offend the host my agreeing that it was a stupid question. The kid will get it together …..probably tonight against a lefty. Three for four, with a dinger and 4 rbi’s should get the tone of this conversation changed pdq.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 6:43 PM

      David, I had written my response 10 minutes ago and notice it didn’t post so I re-wrote it. Thoughts along the same line but I think it starts with the junk questions he’s asked. The only reason MW got asked about it was because it’s now an open issue and someone thought they could further discuss it.

      I don’t think I’ve ever heard MW as p*ssed.

    • NatsLady - Aug 6, 2014 at 6:51 PM

      I agree. I was listening this morning and I thought he was just being polite, but he he basically said, “no way,” politely. He talked about how hard Harper works, etc. etc. etc. At no point did he take the suggestion seriously, nor did I.

    • natsfan1a - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:59 PM

      Go get ‘em, Matt. Grrrrr!

  2. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 6:39 PM

    The Junkies and I emphasize “junk” love to instigate and lead into controversy as that leads to ratings. They already caused big drama with their interview with Kevin Frandsen in May and asked Matt Williams if Bryce could be sent down to the Minors which you know Matt doesn’t want to blow these guys away since he’s paid to do the show so he danced around the question and now it’s being misconstrued.

    Unbelievable.

    • 6ID20 - Aug 6, 2014 at 6:48 PM

      It wasn’t a stupid question or even out of line for the Junkies to ask that question. It’s a question that was on every DC fan’s mind. What was stupid and irresponsible was the way the media, especially Kilgore, misrepresented MW’s answer to the question.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 7:17 PM

        Well when you start your questioning “Is that just a stupid idea on my part?” you already know it’s stupid and anyone with a brain knows the Nats would never send Harper back to the Minors without creating an injury for justification as a rehab.

        If you think it needed to be asked, then I don’t know what to tell you.

      • 6ID20 - Aug 6, 2014 at 7:34 PM

        It’s how a smart interviewer phrases a tough question. Non-confrontationaly. And Williams answered it diplomatically and unequivocally. I can assure you Williams has no problem with the Junkies for asking the question. His ire was directed totally at Kilgore, who is already doing a CYA move by amending his article to say that Williams answered the question “awkwardly.” He didn’t. I heard the whole exchange live. Kilgore’s performance is what’s awkward here.

      • rayvil01 - Aug 6, 2014 at 7:38 PM

        Ghost is all over it. Good job.

      • therealjohnc - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:41 PM

        It’s not a question on “every DC fan’s mind” … it’s something that occurs to a few people that post on boards, but most Nats fans don’t take seriously.

    • dhamm6500 - Aug 6, 2014 at 6:58 PM

      The Junkies are, indeed, Junk. It’s a shame that any member of the Nats has to waste time with them.

      • nats128 - Aug 6, 2014 at 7:21 PM

        +3

    • snerdblurter - Aug 6, 2014 at 7:22 PM

      I’ll be the first to agree that the Junkies are ratings-mongerers without any real baseball knowledge to speak of, but how is it so unbelievable that theyd ask that question, especially the way it was phrased? The beat reporters are the ones to blame for this one…

      Either way, the junkies are meant to be a fun show, not an informative one. If you’re looking to learn something or hear a deeply analytical discussion, save your breath and flip over to NPR. Otherwise, let the Junkies do their thing – even if it causes minor drama every now and then, it does help build interest in the team and last time I checked DC wasn’t the greatest baseball town…

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 6, 2014 at 7:27 PM

        snerd, they phrased it to suck Matt in by setting it up as a “stupid question” and that’s what they do. Matt handled it poorly.

        The followup by Kilgore got the right response from Matty. That was gold.

      • 6ID20 - Aug 6, 2014 at 7:56 PM

        No, they didn’t phrase the question poorly and Matt didn’t handle it poorly. Everything was fine until Kilgore got hold of it. It’s a question that needed to be answered. Callers to Phil Wood’s postgame show were raising it. The Junkies getting the answer right from the horse’s mouth was absolutely the right move. Kilgore is the one who stirred the pot with misinformation.

      • coollikelivo - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:48 PM

        Big -1 on NPR….

  3. Hiram Hover - Aug 6, 2014 at 6:40 PM

    I will be so happy when he starts hitting again because

    1. he will be hitting again and
    B. we can stop talking about this.

    A twofer!

  4. tcostant - Aug 6, 2014 at 6:48 PM

    Wish I could post a photo, my son and I were just on the field for batting practice!

    • natsfan1a - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:01 PM

      Very cool.

      • tcostant - Aug 7, 2014 at 11:27 AM

        It was great, about 8 kids and parents. I got a random email from the Nats on Monday asking if we wanted to go because he was picked at randon from the Jr. Nationals Kids Club members. Best $20 I ever spent :)

        Tanner Roark can over when batting practice was done and sign something for ever kid. What a great guy.

        It was amamzing.

    • chazzmichaelmichaelzz - Aug 7, 2014 at 11:32 AM

  5. NatsLady - Aug 6, 2014 at 6:54 PM

    I hate that he’s on that sow anyway at 8 a.m. Davey was a morning person and funny as all get-out at that hour. Matty sounds like he had to press the snooze button a dozen times and still barely had time to gargle before he to answe the phone from them.

  6. scnatsfan - Aug 6, 2014 at 6:57 PM

    We don’t need the distraction, that’s for sure – but it is a fair question with the thumb injury and the lack of production. Harper called out Span, more or less, maybe someone is calling him out to wake him up.

  7. nats128 - Aug 6, 2014 at 7:23 PM

    ” a question that was on every DC fan’s mind.”

    Was never on my mind. I guess your statement is false. It was NOT on EVERY DC fan’s mind.

    • dhamm6500 - Aug 6, 2014 at 7:52 PM

      Mine either. That makes two.

    • NatsLady - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:08 PM

      Never even occurred to me.

      • 6ID20 - Aug 6, 2014 at 8:48 PM

        If you weren’t aware that people were seriously raising this question, you’re out of touch.

      • therealjohnc - Aug 6, 2014 at 10:44 PM

        Oh, we’re aware that a few people are posting it on various corners of the interNats … but that doesn’t raise the question seriously. People post all kinds of stuff.

  8. nats128 - Aug 6, 2014 at 7:25 PM

    That Rendon is so good. He gets that ball to Espi so quick to turn that double play without being taken out.

  9. nats128 - Aug 6, 2014 at 7:36 PM

    Junkie: “Is it a terrible idea — just a wacky idea — to send him down to Syracuse for a week, just to get him right? Is that just a stupid idea on my part?”

    Matt Williams: “I don’t know. I don’t think it’s stupid”

    I would have said nicely with a laugh “Yah, that’s stupid”. That’s the end of it. Once you engage those ratings mongerers you open the door for interpretation.

  10. coollikelivo - Aug 6, 2014 at 9:53 PM

    BH does need some maturing though. His swing is like beer league softball and often like a 9-iron. What’s the first thing they teach in Little League?… LEVEL SWING! Watch closely and you will see he just flails away with a scooping, out of control hack. He needs to slow down his mind and body. FP was dead on when he noted how fast Rendon’s bat is, but he never looks like he is going to twist out of his socks like Bryce does. I don’t hate Bryce, so please don’t hate on your humble messenger…. (or something like that).

  11. JamesFan - Aug 7, 2014 at 3:46 AM

    Team first. I do not have a problem sending Harper down if we have a suitable replacement. Right now Harper is hurting the team at the plate and we have a potential .300 hitter on the bench (Souza). Give him a chance. If Harper can’t handle a little time in the minors, he’s not superstar material over the long haul.

    • bowdenball - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:02 AM

      Harper has a .368 OBP since the All Star Break. National League average is .312.

      He is not hurting the team at the plate.

      • Satan - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:16 AM

        You obviously aren’t watching the games if you think he’s not hurting them at the plate.

    • Satan - Aug 7, 2014 at 9:15 AM

      Finally some guys on the board that can see. I want Harper to do well but all you have to do is show him a fastball and then throw nothing but off speed. The “he’s only 21 and done things no one before him has done” is nonsense. That’s because no other teams rush their top prospects to the big leagues at 19 before they’re ready. The media made him a superstar before he actually was a superstar and now the Nats hands are tied and have to keep him up even though it is hurting the team.

  12. Soul Possession, Sec 3 My Sofa - Aug 8, 2014 at 3:07 PM

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