WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Bryce Harper was benched for “lack of hustle” in the Nationals 4-3 home loss to the Cardinals on Saturday, a decision which manager Matt Williams made for the young slugger’s “inability to run 90 feet.
The play which led Williams to his decision came in the sixth inning, when Harper hit a one-hopper back to the pitcher and failed to run full speed to first base.
Asked after the game why Harper was pulled from the lineup, Williams responded “the inability to run 90 feet,” later specifying it had nothing to do with Harper’s recent quad tightness.
“No. Lack of hustle,” Williams said. “That’s why he came out of the game.”
Williams acknowledged he spoke with Harper about it, saying “we made an agreement.”
“He and I made an agreement,” he said. “This team made an agreement, that when we play the game, that we hustle at all times; that we play the game with intensity and the willingness to win, and as it turned out, his spot came up — Kevin Frandsen put on a nice [at-bat] against [Trevor] Rosenthal — but his spot came up with the ability to win the game, and that’s a shame for his teammates.”
He declined to comment on how Harper reacted to being sat down.
Harper was short in his responses when sought for comment after the game, simply saying he respected Williams’ decision.
CBS Sports has video of Harper’s decisive groundout, via Mike Axisa.