Nationals

Quick Links

Baker offers thoughts on dealing with conflict

bryceharperjonathanpapelbon110815.png

Baker offers thoughts on dealing with conflict

Whether there was purpose behind it or not, Dusty Baker shared a pretty interesting anecdote during his introductory news conference Thursday. Asked about Bryce Harper, the newly named Nationals manager offered up a story about his own days as a brash, young big-leaguer and an important lesson he learned.

"I wasn't as good a player as Bryce Harper," Baker said. "But I came in the league, and my first year I hit third in the league. And I hit behind Hank Aaron. And I thought that I was the cat's meow at that time. And I got kind of jacked a couple times by the older guys. One time, I had somebody's hand around my throat, because I was kind of a little cocky, too. But you learn. And this game, sooner or later, will humble you no matter how good you think you are."

Hmm, remind you of any particular recent incident that took place in the Nationals dugout?

Baker pretty clearly wanted to mention that story, and he also clearly wanted to provide his philosophy on clubhouse conflicts. The man has been in this game long enough to know how often teammates get into confrontations with each other. (He saw Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent go after each other in 2002, a season that ended with the Giants in the World Series.) And he believes he knows how best to ensure those confrontations don't devolve into something with longer lasting ramifications.

"There's always conflict at some points in time," he said. "From my military and Marines days, we handled it like men. We talked about it out in the open, so we don't let things fester. That's the main way.

"I remember I had a dispute with a teammate. I was upset with this guy, so somebody called him over and said: 'Hey, Dusty's got a beef with you.' He told him what I said. I said: 'Don't tell him that.' He said: 'Well, you said it.' It got out in the open, and we're best of friends now. That's how you deal with it. You don't let these things ... and you can sort of see it on the plane and the bus and with certain things. You have to deal with things as quickly as you can."

The Nationals still must decide what to do with Jonathan Papelbon, who was suspended by the club during the season's final week after choking Harper in the dugout. If the club chooses to keep the volatile closer, does Baker envision a scenario in which the two are able to coexist?

The new manager intends to start laying the groundwork for that, and for building relationships with all of his players, long before heading to Viera in February.

"It actually starts in the winter," he said. "I'm going to contact the players and hopefully see some of them. That's the main thing. ...

"To tell you the truth, everyone wants to know what I'm going to say on the first day of spring training. And you know something? I really don't know. It's something that I have to feel, something that can't be fabricated and can't be faked. Guys can see that. I'll talk to some of the guys and see what this team needs. But I really don't know exactly what they need. Who knows, they may not need anything. I doubt it, but at the same time I'll listen to some of the guys. The thing about great leaders, like Nelson Mandela said: 'You have to listen as well as talk.'"

Quick Links

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

Quick Links

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE