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Washington Nationals' slugger Bryce Harper and Matt Williams' mutual admiration society

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Matt Williams told reporters last night that he likes the progress he's seen Bryce Harper make this season and Harper talked about the advice he gets from the former major league slugger and current Washington Nationals' manager.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Post writer Barry Svrluga wrote on Tuesday night that his sources told him no decision has been made on Matt Williams' future on the bench in the nation's capital.

Could Washington's disappointing results this season lead to the Nationals hiring their third manager in the last four years?

"That decision, sources say, has not yet been made," Svrluga wrote, but remember, he cautioned the vocal contingent that wants Williams ousted, "... when the Nationals were interviewing for [Davey] Johnson’s replacement, the decision didn’t just fall to General Manager Mike Rizzo.":

"Being able to talk to him about hitting and being able to see what he thinks about the approach and who I'm facing, things like that, it's unbelievable being able to have a guy like that." -Bryce Harper on talking hitting with Matt Williams

"Yes, Rizzo liked Williams. But the highest levels of ownership – from Ted Lerner to his son and daughters and their husbands – were involved in the interview process. Everyone signed off on Williams."

Earlier this month, Rizzo told reporters, including the WaPost writer, that no decision was going to be made during the season.

"Matt Williams is our manager," Rizzo said then, with 25 games left at that point, "and he’s going to lead us through this stretch. I’ve always supported him. We’re not going to talk about 2016 while 2015 is ongoing."

The Nationals lost four straight games after those comments, but they've won three straight since, including Tuesday night's 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

After the game, Bryce Harper, the Nationals' 22-year-old MVP candidate, spoke about his relationship with his embattled manager.

Harper hit two home runs, one in the first and another in the eighth, and after the second, his 39th of the season, he was seen in the dugout giving his skipper some love.

So what was going on there?

"We were just talking before that at bat about what the guy was going to do to me and how I should approach it and it actually worked out to where we were talking about the homer and I actually hit one," Harper told MASN's Dan Kolko.

What did Williams tell him?

"We'll keep it between us," Williams told reporters.

"Again, I enjoy watching him have success. I enjoy watching all our guys have success, so if we can add little tidbits along the way, that's great."

"Matt's great," Harper said. "Being able to talk to him about hitting and being able to see what he thinks about the approach and who I'm facing, things like that, it's unbelievable being able to have a guy like that."

Though Williams declined to share details, Harper did elaborate on the content of their discussion heading into his eighth inning at bat against reliever Adam Loewen.

"He's got great power that way and he's patient, he's getting good pitches to hit and he's not missing them. Those steps are being taken to become what he wants to be." -Matt Williams on Bryce Harper after his two-home run game in CBP

"Harper asked Williams how he should approach the Phillies left-hander," NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman wrote:

"Just sit back on it and try to roll," Harper said Williams told him.

"Alright," Harper replied. "Hopefully I’ll hit a homer."

Harper went with a 91 mph 1-1 fastball outside and powered it out to left for an opposite field, two-run home run that put the Nationals ahead, 4-0.

It was his second home run of the night. Harper went 3 for 3 with the two home runs and an RBI single, driving in all four runs the Nationals scored.

Having Williams as a sounding board, Harper said, was important to him:

"He does everything he can to help me," Harper said. "He’s unbelievable with the mind game and being able to talk about hitting, being able to have a guy like that in my corner, to go up to him and really ask him what he thinks, how he’d approach the at-bat."

They have a bit of a mutual admiration society going on apparently, as Williams too praised the development he's seen from the 2010 no.1 overall pick.

"The progressions that he's made are really nice to see," he said.

"Certainly has confidence in taking the ball the other way a couple times -- one to center and one to left tonight -- he's got great power that way and he's patient, he's getting good pitches to hit and he's not missing them. Those steps are being taken to become what he wants to be."

Harper's first home run of the night followed two pitches after Phillies' right-hander David Buchanan threw a first-pitch fastball behind the Nats' slugger's legs.

Buchanan left a 2-0 curve up for Harper, who hit it over the 409 foot marker on the center field wall.

"It was a breaking ball," Williams said.

"Again, [Buchanan] just yanked the ball across [on the first pitch], missed with the fastball, then he got a breaking ball to hit.

"And he just stayed on it. Again, he's got power to all fields, and when he stays short and he's through the baseball like he was tonight it can be special."

Has Harper, Williams was asked, put together a season that's special enough to earn him the National League's Most Valuable Player award?

Harper, who started the night leading the NL in Wins Above Replacement (8.7 fWAR). He currently has the NL's highest average (.338), on-base percentage (.467 and slugging percentage (.667) as well.

He also has the most home runs (39), and runs scored (108).

"At this point," Williams said, "we've got a bunch of games left. I don't think he's thinking about it. I would certainly not want to have him start thinking about it.

"Stay with your approach, stay with what you're doing, at the end of the day, might have a shot."