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Williams doesn't like Harper's bunt attempt

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Williams doesn't like Harper's bunt attempt

Bryce Harper stood at the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning Wednesday night, his team trailing by a run in a game it simply had to win to keep its slim postseason hopes alive.

There has been no more-feared hitter in the game this season than the 22-year-old slugger, the presumptive NL MVP thanks to a complete offensive performance that stacks right up with the best in baseball history.

So, what did Harper try to do to help the Nationals win this game against the Orioles? He tried to bunt. And his manager didn't like that one bit.

"No," Matt Williams said following a disheartening 4-3 loss. "We need a double there. They're shifting him. We've talked numerous times about it. He did it twice. I want him swinging the bat."

Here's the situation: Down 4-3 and leading off the eighth, Harper was facing Baltimore right-hander Mychael Givens. He didn't square around right away; he took the first pitch for ball one, then fouled off the next to even the count, 1-1.

That's when Harper decided to show bunt and when he wound up fouling off Givens' offering. The count now 1-2, he swung mightily and missed at a 93 mph fastball up and out of the zone, a costly strikeout to begin the inning.

"I'm just trying to put the ball in play," Harper said. "If I lay a bunt down the third-base side, it's a knock all day long. I'm on first base with [Jayson Werth] coming up. So, leadoff guy trying to get on base and do what I can. But I understand where [Williams] is coming from with that."

Harper has done this before. He'll occasionally square around to bunt, particularly against a tough left-hander, but rarely does he put the ball in play, typically fouling off the pitch or pulling back and taking it.

Only twice this season has Harper been able to get a bunt down, though he has successfully beaten it out for a hit each time. In his career, he's only 6-for-22 when getting a bunt down in fair territory.

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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.

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