Dusty Baker cautioned his players all season that it was better to make sure that they were healthy than try to play “hero” and risk turning a small problem into something bigger.
But, Baker said, there would come a time when you’d have to play through the pain. As the season wore on, Baker told reporters that time was fast approaching.
When Jayson Werth, for example, was banged up in early August, Baker explained that it was part of the grind.
“The only way that nothing is bothering you is if you haven’t played,” Baker said when asked about playing injured at that point in the season.
“The other day Jayson Werth kind of strolled in, he looked like an old man, and then when the game starts he looked like a young chicken.”
“It’s almost hero time,” Baker said. “When you’ve got to go out there and find a way to play and find a way to play effectively.”
Almost, but not quite. Stephen Strasburg, who has since, unfortunately, ended up on the DL, was shut down in mid-August when he experienced soreness in that elbow.
“We thought that it would be better for us to put him on the DL, and I can tell you, he fought it, but he didn’t really have much choice.”
“He wants to pitch,” Baker said. “He knows how badly we need him, but like I explained to him, it’s not hero time... yet.”
It came up again this past week, when Bryce Harper, who injured his thumb sliding into third in Pittsburgh, told his manager he was ready to go back in against the Arizona D-backs.
“He wanted to play today,” Baker explained, “but I didn’t think it was wise for him to play today. He was being courageous. I’ve told these guys that it’s hero time, they asked, ‘Was it hero time yet?’ I said, ‘Almost.’”
“We’re a few days away from hero time,” Baker said. “Or maybe starting tomorrow or whatever, it depends on where we are in the standings, it depends on what the [Los Angeles] Dodgers do, and it depends on what we do tonight.”
With Harper trying to talk his way back in, Murphy trying to get healthy, and the Nats trying to lock up home field in the NLDS, Baker finally told reporters this week that it had finally arrived. It was time. Hero time.
“Now, today was the official start of ‘hero time’,” Baker said. “You guys have been hearing me talk about it the whole year, but this last — what do we have six games, five games left, this is hero time right now.”
Who’s going to step up? Who will be the Nationals’ postseason heroes? Can Harper turn his season around with a strong October? Can Max Scherzer lead the Nationals beyond the Division Series? Will someone unexpected step up?
From BreakingT: “The Washington Nationals and Dusty Baker will be looking for their players to transcend being mere mortals and become Heroes this postseason. Bryce Harper is one of those players capable of putting the team on his back and saving the day.”