Before he had a stiff neck to deal with that was keeping him out of the lineup, Bryce Harper was beginning to show positive signs at the plate after struggling offensively for several months.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to play for a while now, and he’s not in the lineup tonight either...
Dusty Baker talked about liking what he saw after Harper at the plate after he went 1 for 3 with a sac fly in Washington’s 5-1 win over the San Francisco Giants last week.
“The last few games he’s slowed his feet down,” Baker explained, “and we talked about it and [Assistant Hitting Coach] Jacque [Jones] and [Hitting Coach Rick] Schu have talked about it too, when you have slow feet you have fast hands and when you have fast feet you have slow hands.
“He’s been hitting the ball on the nose and hitting the ball the other way and that’s how you’ve got to approach this thing. It didn’t take you a week to get in this hole and it’s going to take you probably twice as long to get out, but it’s nice to see him hitting the ball good again.”
Baker spoke about Harper again in an MLB Network Radio interview yesterday, talking to hosts Casey Stern and Cliff Floyd about what he’s seen from Harper’s swing and the latest on the 23-year-old slugger’s stiff neck.
“It wasn’t his swing as much as I saw his feet had slowed down and, you know, that old adage, ‘Slow feet, fast hands,’ and you were starting to see him hit balls to left field, up the middle, and he wasn’t getting a whole bunch to show for it but just the fact that he was hitting the ball good and hitting the ball hard,” Baker explained.
“Right now I don’t have any status on [his neck], it’s day to day and anybody that’s had any kind of stiff neck, a crick in their neck, whatever you want to call it, a spasm in the neck area, it kind of lets you go when it wants to let you go.
“So it’s day to day and I’m hoping tomorrow that when I go in there tomorrow that he feels great and if not we’ll just have to adjust; but the longer he’s out, the more probably his timing is going to be off, so we’re hoping that he’ll be able to play this weekend.”
Baker brought Harper up again when discussing the violent nature of Prince Fielder’s swing and how it may have led to the issues that ultimately had Fielder retire this week.
“I was talking to a scout this morning that that’s maybe, who knows, how Bryce might have hurt his neck, originally,” Baker said.
“And guys who have a violent swing are guys that attack. But I don’t know. I’ve seen other guys with violent swings nothing happens to guys. Who knows.”
When the Nationals’ lineup was released this afternoon, Harper’s name was name was left off the lineup card again. We’ll hear what Baker has to say about Harper when he meets with reporters this afternoon...
Here’s the Nationals’ lineup for the series opener with the Braves: