by Chris Lingebach

WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo says he and Matt Williams have spoken with Bryce Harper about his comments Monday which seemed to challenge the manager’s lineup decision, saying the “message was delivered and received.”

On Monday, Harper, upon returning from 57 games on the shelf following surgery on his thumb, was asked by reporters about Ryan Zimmerman’s performance filling in for him in left field.

Harper depicted in is response, unsolicited, what he thought would reflect the ideal defensive lineup for the Nationals.

“I think it’s great,” he said, via Adam Kilgore. “I think he should be playing left. Rendon’s a good third baseman. He should be playing third. We’ve got one of the best second basemen in the league in Danny Espinosa. Of course, we want the best-hitting lineup in there. I think Rendon playing third and Zim playing left is something that would be good for this team. I think that should be what’s happening.”

Omitted from Harper’s comment was the current center fielder for the Nationals, Denard Span, who spoke to Kilgore about that omission, and the implication that Harper would prefer to take his spot in center, the following day:

“In all my years of playing baseball, I’ve never been talked about by another teammate,” Span said, again via Kilgore. “At the same time, it’s okay. I would never talk about another teammate. At the end of the day, we’re trying to win a championship. That’s what it’s all about. At the end of the day, he’s still one of my teammates. I’ll stick up for him any given day of the week. I don’t have any ill feelings toward him at all. I’ll just leave it at that.”

On Thursday, Rizzo was asked in his weekly radio appearance with 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier, what he made of Harper’s comments.

“Well, you know, Harp’s a competitor and he says what’s on his mind,” Rizzo said. “And I think if he had the chance to take it back and say it differently, I think he would have, but he didn’t, and to me, it’s old news, and he’s a guy that we need in the lineup and is gonna perform very positively for the club. And I think once he spoke to his teammates afterwards, I think everything is fine and it’s old news and we put it behind us, and we’re ready to take off and play baseball with, finally, our 25-man roster intact.”

Asked for clarification that Harper has in fact since spoken with his teammates, Rizzo said, “Well he has talked to him since. He’s talked to myself, and to Matt Williams, so we’re all on the same page, and I think everything’s good.”

Paulsen followed up with Rizzo once more, this time requesting the extent of the conversation had between he, Harper and Williams.

“Last thing on this, Mike,” Paulsen began. “Is that just a conversation where you basically say, Hey, look man, you’re a good baseball player. You’re not an assistant general manager. Let us handle that kind of stuff?

“Well I’m not gonna allow you into the conversation and meeting that we had,” Rizzo returned. “But suffice it to say, it was very informative, and message was delivered and received, and I think we’re ready to move past it.”

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