After starting the month of July with an eight-game hit streak, 19-year-old Nats' outfielder Bryce Harper had gone 15 for 82 (.183/.264/.293) with a double, triple, two home runs, nine walks and 17 K's in his last 20 games before Sunday's series finale with the Miami Marlins. Harper was 1 for 5 with a towering HR to right on Saturday night connecting for just his second HR in his last 127 at bats. It's been a relatively rough stretch for the 2010 no.1 overall pick, over which he's gone from .282/.357/.493 to .257/.330/.424. Davey Johnson said he talked to Harper recently to see if he could get the Nationals' rookie to stop pressing so hard.
"He expects himself to hit probably .350," Johnson told reporters, "He said .400. But that's how driven he is. I mean he's a great player. He's learning the league. Learning how they're pitching him. And they're pitching him tough. But he'll be fine. I told him, I said, 'You know, you've proven that you belong up here, so try to relax.' But it's not happening. It's not going to happen." In Sunday's finale with the Miami Marlins, Harper was 2 for 4 with two K's. After a swinging strikeout in the bottom of the fourth, the Nats' outfielder took his frustrations out on his bat, slamming it on home plate and breaking it in half. Marlins' catcher John Buck avoided the debris and gave the outfielder a quick stare...
No! Not another Bryce Harper controversy!! Remember the time Harper hit himself in the face and opened up a cut over his left eye? Or how about the time he pointed his bat at Ozzie Guillen? Or the time he signed a bat and sent it to Ozzie Guillen to apologize? Or how about when he broke his bat over his knee? Bryce Harper's an incorrigible bat-breaking menace!! He breaks his bat on the plate in anger! Endangers John Buck with flying shards of bat! He drew a few "Ooohs!" from the crowd in Nats Park. He apologized to the Marlins' catcher the next time up... What?
When Harper came to the plate again for his next at bat after the bat-breaking incident, the Nats' 19-year-old outfielder apologized to the Marlins' catcher as Buck told the Florida Sun-Sentinel's Juan C. Rodriguez:
"When Harper, 19, came up again in the sixth he apologized to Buck.
"'I saw it hit and that’s why I kind of jumped away,' Buck said. 'He told me he was really sorry, it was terrible. I told him, ‘Don’t worry about it. I did the same thing, but when I was your age it was a metal bat and I was in high school.’ It’s a learning experience for him. He’s just having to do it in front of the eyes of the whole country and the world. I bet you he probably won’t do that any more.'"
He's incorrigible! Someone send Buck a signed broken bat. By the way. Harper made a great diving catch in the second inning of Sunday's game. You can watch that video HERE. Or check out his HR from Saturday night again: