NEW YORK — Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez met with star Bryce Harper on Saturday a day after the outfielder failed to run out a ground ball in the fifth inning of Washington’s 4-2 loss to the New York Mets.
“I’ve spoken to Bryce and that’s a conversation that will stay between Bryce and I,” Martinez said.
Harper came up to the plate in the fifth against hard-throwing Noah Syndergaard with one out and two runners on after singles by Adam Eaton and Anthony Rendon. Syndergaard threw the 25-year old slugger a 96 mph slider and Harper hit the ball sharply, but right at Mets shortstop Amed Rosario for an inning-ending double play.
Martinez dismissed the notion that there would be any lingering issues from having a talk with his star player.
“I forgot about it, I really have,” the first-year manager said. “We have a ballgame to win today and he’s been a big part of that.”
Although Harper is tied for second in the National League with 23 home runs, he’s hitting a career-low .214 and ranks among the NL leaders with 100 strikeouts. The six-time All-Star is 8 for 45 in July and has just three hits in his past 22 at-bats entering Saturday. Harper is set to be a free agent at the end of the season.
“He wants to win, that’s all he cares about,” Martinez said. “Regardless of his average, he has 23 home runs and 53 RBI. I believe that he’s going to hit 40 and drive in 100. I’m a big fan of Bryce. I love the kid because of what he brings every day. He’s a good kid, that’s all I can say.”
Harper will participate in Monday’s Home Run Derby and was elected to start in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, set to be played at Nationals Park in Washington.