Before last night’s series finale in AT&T Park, the Washington Nationals announced that 24-year-old slugger Bryce Harper would serve his three-game suspension immediately after he appealed what was originally a four-game ban for charging the mound, throwing his helmet, and fighting with Giants’ reliever Hunter Strickland in Monday afternoon’s series opener in San Francisco.
“The parties agreed to settle at three games, effective immediately,” the Nationals noted Wednesday afternoon.
Dusty Baker discussed the decision in his own pregame press conference with reporters before the third of three with the Giants, when he was asked if he was pleased to hear the initial length of the punishment had been reduced.
“Very happy,” Baker said. “Not happy that it was three, but three is better than four, and so he decided to take it today so he’ll miss this game tonight and then he’ll miss the first two games of the Oakland series and then hopefully he’ll be ready to play on Sunday.”
Baker said he thought the time off might actually benefit Harper, who was in the midst of a mini-slump, going 0 for 11 overall and 0 for 8 with four Ks in the first two games in AT&T. And, Baker added, he’s not going to be sitting around waiting for Sunday.
“You know he’s going to go to work, and like those couple days off really helped [Daniel Murphy], you know, and you see how he responded, and you see how Anthony Rendon responds to a day off and his day off is not only a physical day off, it’s also a mental day off. Oh yeah, I think Harp will come back — and he didn’t want to miss the LA series.”
After three in Oakland this weekend, it’s on to Los Angeles for three games with the Dodgers, who knocked the Nationals out of the NLDS last October.
“That’s why he took it here,” Baker said.
“Because he realized the importance of that, cause I mean, hey man, they beat us last year in the playoffs and the way they’re playing now we’re going to need every hand on deck.”
The Nationals will, however, be shorthanded this weekend against the A’s in terms of outfielders.
“Yeah, we are thin on that, but I’ll probably — I’m going to DH a couple of these guys, like mainly Jayson Werth at least one of these days and I’m going to have Adam Lind go and play some outfield, work out more,” Baker said.
“He’ll probably get one of the starts in left field even though that’s a big sun field, left field, I’ve played left field, left field there is a very tough left field. It’s tough early and then right field is extremely tough later, so I’m going to have to school [Brian Goodwin] and [Lind] on the perils of playing outfield in Oakland.”