When Bryce Harper failed to hustle to first on Friday night after a ground ball, Nationals coaches noticed. Daniel Murphy bobbled the ball but had ample to time to complete the play and end the inning with two runners on base due to Harper’s seeming lack of hustle.
Bench coach Randy Knorr had this to say to the Associated Press about the 2010 first-overall pick after the game:
“The thing about Bryce right now, it’s tough,” Knorr said. “He gets frustrated. I don’t think he does it intentionally, but he’s going to have to start picking it up a little bit because we’ve got everybody else doing it. And he gets frustrated at times and it just comes out in him.
“It’s something that we’ve got to fix. … He’s got a lot going on. It’s hard for me to say; I’m not 20 years old in the big leagues with stuff going on around me. It’s something we’ve got to get to the bottom of, and keep talking to him because eventually we’re just going to have to take him out of the game.”
But is he injured? Harper crashed into the wall back in May in a game against the Dodgers, and ultimately ended up having to miss 31 games due to bursitis in his knee as a result. He is most likely headed for surgery this offseason to remove a bursa sac, but that option remains up in the air.
I think it’s still an issue,” manager Davy Johnson said. “I think he can probably play with it, but if he headfirst slides or dives in the outfield it’s probably going to flare up. But hopefully we can get through the season.”
While Knorr is probably right to a certain extent — kids will go through some growing pains and often need to be taught some difficult lessons along the way in their development – the combination of frustration and the injury have to be taking their toll on the youngster.