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Harper showing he can excel at 'the little things'

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Harper showing he can excel at 'the little things'

In the midst of Bryce Harper's torrid May that has taken the baseball world by storm, it's been easy to forget that the skill set of the Nationals' phenom goes well beyond hitting the long ball. 

Just ask the Philadelphia Phillies, who saw Harper hurt them in more ways than one in the Nats' 4-1 victory Sunday afternoon. The 22-year-old right fielder didn't homer, but still went 2-for-3 with a walk, a run and two RBI, including driving in the go-ahead run on a groundout in the fifth inning and a two-out opposite-field bloop hit to bring in an insurance run in the seventh.

"Those will add up," he said later. "Definitely. Just trying to get those RBI."

Sure, Harper's home run totals have drawn and will continue to draw most of the headlines as his breakout season rolls on. But what has impressed his skipper the most is that, even while red hot, he's shown a consistent, disciplined approach at the plate. Rather than trying to swing for the fences in every at-bat, he's shown more of a willingness to work deep into the count and excel in key situations. 

"The secret of success for him or any other player is two-out basehits with guys in scoring position, getting that guy in from third base with less than two outs," said manager Matt Williams. "That's what will make a fantastic season. He accomplished both of those today."

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What'll also make Harper's season a success is if he continues to develop as an outfielder, something that showed up once again on Sunday. With the score still 2-1 in the seventh and a man on first base, Harper fielded a single to right and gunned it to second in time for a force out for his club-leading fourth outfield assist of the season. 

"I take a lot of pride in my defense," Harper said. "Being able to get out there every single day and shag and do the thing I need to do, taking those reps, getting some pointers from Denard [Span] and [Jayson Werth] and [outfield coach] Tarasco of course. Just trying to be the best right fielder I can. If I'm not hitting, then I don't want them to hit either." 

It seems as if even without hitting the ball out of the park, Harper still finds new ways to wow not only the D.C. fanbase, but the other members of the Nats clubhouse. His statistics in Sunday's boxscore may not look eye-popping on paper, but Sunday's win was a prime example of how he can help the ball club win in a multitude of ways. 

"He's just becoming the all-around ballplayer," starter Gio Gonzalez said. "You can see it. He's a superstar, and he's been a superstar since he was in high school. It's basically what we've been waiting to see, and he's bringing it."

"He'll hit balls over the fence, but that won't be the measure of his success," added Williams. "It will be those little things that he does over the course of a game that allow us to get an extra run, or cut a run down, things of that nature.

"That kind of talent makes him a special player."

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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

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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.

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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.

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