MIAMI -- Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen lashed out at Bryce Harper following today's game, calling the Nationals rookie "unprofessional" apparently for using too much pine tar on his bat.
"I could have said a lot of stuff about this kid," Guillen said following his team's 4-0 loss to the Nationals. "I've been praising this kid like every day. The last three times they asked me about him, the only thing I said was he's a great player. What he did today was unprofessional."
What did Harper do to upset Guillen? He apparently stepped to the plate in the top of the first inning with pine tar too far up the barrel of his bat. Guillen alerted the umpiring crew, which informed the Nationals, who had Harper change to another bat for his second at-bat.
But when Harper came up to hit in the top of the third, he pointed his bat toward the Miami dugout. Guillen started yelling from his perch, first at Harper and then at Nationals manager Davey Johnson.
"I was just telling him how cute he was," Guillen said, refusing to divulge details. "Something happened there the inning before, and I didn't like it and I was talking to the umpire about it."
The Nationals didn't understand what Guillen was so upset about.
"Ozzie had complained that the pine tar was too high up on Harper's bat, so we changed it," Johnson said. "Then he was still chirping about it. It got on the umpire's nerves. It got on my nerves. He was trying to intimidate my player, I guess. That's not going to bother our player. He does what he has to do."
Harper, who went 0-for-4 during the victory, stayed above the fray after the game.
"He battles for his team, and that's the type of manager Ozzie is," the 19-year-old All-Star said. "He's a great manager to play for. He's going to battle for you, no matter what. That's a manager you want to play for."
Major League Baseball Rule 1.10(c) restricts players from putting pine tar on their bats more than 18 inches from the handle, an infraction most notably associated with Hall of Famer George Brett (who happens to be one of Harper's favorite players).
"It's such a fine line," Johnson said. "They put the pine tar, it's only supposed to be at the top of the label. Some guys, it might be over half an inch or something. There's still a foot of the barrel to hit it with. If you hit it on the pine tar, it's going to shatter everything. They replace the ball all the time, anyways. What's the big deal?"
Johnson, of course, made enemies with Rays manager Joe Maddon last month when he got Tampa Bay reliever Joel Peralta ejected for having too much pine tar in his glove.
What residual effect might there be from this incident? Nobody was saying, but Guillen suggested he would be having a chat with Johnson at some point.
"I'm not going to tell you guys what he did, because I'm not going to be talking about it on ESPN, Baseball Tonight, what happened again," the Miami manager said. "I'll just leave it like that. I'll talk to his manager in a little while."