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Bench does Dusty Baker, Nationals big favor in win over Braves

Bench does Dusty Baker, Nationals big favor in win over Braves

Following his team's 6-4 win over the Atlanta Braves on Labor Day, Dusty Baker emerged from his clubhouse office at Nationals Park clutching five bottles of his signature 'Baker Family' red wine, each sporting a label with baseball seams printed on them, an ode to Dusty's day job as manager of the Nats.

He muttered a question aloud as reporters surrounded Trea Turner for an interview.

"Where's Chris Heisey's locker?"

Baker was looking to drop off gifts for Heisey and others after the Nats' 80th victory of the season, this one paved in part by five bench players who each contributed to varying degrees on offense. Those five: Heisey, Ben Revere, Jose Lobaton, Brian Goodwin and Clint Robinson filled in admirably for five regulars who all took the day off following a quick turnaround from the team's Sunday night game in New York. 

The Nats got back to D.C. at 3 a.m. early Monday morning and many didn't get to sleep until four. They then had to get up for a 4 p.m. game on Monday and report hours before first pitch.

Baker essentially asked his bench to do him a favor and every single one of them came through.

"That's what they're here for," Baker said. "I've always said you can't win with just your regulars. You've got to get those other guys some opportunities to play. We feel very confident, especially for a short period of time, that those guys can do the job. The circle is not complete unless you're dependent on everybody in that circle. Everybody in that circle is important."

Heisey hit a three-run homer in the third inning. Lobaton had two hits and scored a run. Revere doubled and scored, while Goodwin doubled and Robinson drew a walk. Collectively, those five accounted for three runs, which made the difference in a two-run game.

That effort was appreciated by Baker, but also their teammates, whom they picked up.

"We went to sleep at 4 a.m. Everybody's a zombie. For these guys to come out and give that type of effort, especially against this team, that's huge," starter Max Scherzer said. 

"That takes a lot of heart because not everybody's feeling the best… When you see the bench guys go out there and have success and hit home runs, that's everybody doing their jobs and grinding away in September."

"Thankfully, we got the job done as a whole," Turner said. "It’s fun seeing everybody have success. I enjoy watching teammates have success, it’s special.”

For Heisey, he now has nine homers on the season. He has homered once every 14 at-bats, which is best on the Nats. If he had the plate appearances to qualify, that would rank second in the majors behind Mark Trumbo of the Orioles.

Baker knows Heisey's value as much as anyone, as the skipper also coached him in Cincinnati. With nine home runs, Heisey has the most he's put up since 2013 when he was with the Reds.

"That's his job. He knew that when he signed on for this. And he's been one of the best at it," Baker said. "He works on it in BP, and when you're putting this puzzle together, he's one of the pieces that from the right side has some power."

Heisey led the way for a Nats bench that made life a lot easier than it could have been on Baker and the Nationals. And for a team that appears headed towards the playoffs, their depth could come in handy down the road in October.

"That was a big day today, to win that game," Baker said. "The regulars got a day off, get a good night sleep. [Bryce Harper] said it best, sitting next to me in the dugout. He said, 'I love this team because we are a team.' That's the kind of attitude you want to have on a team."

[RELATED: VIDEO: Bryce Harper fakes out Mets fans with baseball]


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Bryce Harper wants Tony Romo to predict his future after AFC championship game


Bryce Harper wants Tony Romo to predict his future after AFC championship game

Bryce Harper has been having a little fun on Twitter lately with his fans, who are still anxiously waiting to hear which MLB team the coveted free agent will sign with this season. 

And the 26-year-old slugger's jokes continued through the AFC championship game between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night. 

The Patriots' 37-31 overtime win over the Chiefs was broadcasted on CBS, so former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was calling the game, along with Jim Nantz. Since Romo joined the broadcast booth for the 2017 season, he's repeatedly proven he can read a defense before a quarterback does and predict a play before it unfolds. 

He did it again during the AFC championship matchup, and fans watching were stunned at his accuracy. And that brings us to Harper, who chimed in with a joke about Romo's spot-on predictions.

So, does this mean Harper knows what his future team is?! Maybe he's growing as tired of the anticipation as fans (especially Nationals fans) are. 

Recently, he's been responding on Twitter to discussions about where he'll end up with shrugging and questioning emojis -- making light of the offseason's biggest mystery. 

After Romo's proven history of being able to predict the future on the NFL side with incredible accuracy, maybe he does know Harper's future too. Here's a look at some of his predictions from the Patriots-Chiefs game, as well as from his first couple seasons in the booth.


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Bryce Harper's longtime friend Kris Bryant says Harper isn't headed for Cubs


Bryce Harper's longtime friend Kris Bryant says Harper isn't headed for Cubs

After weeks of twists and turns and not enough information for any Nationals fan's satisfaction, the Chicago Cubs seem to be out of the race for free agent Bryce Harper.

Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant seemingly confirmed the news on Friday night from the opening ceremonies of the 2019 Cubs Convention.

"He's not signing here," Bryant said as he sat down with NBC Sports Chicago. 

Though there have been no official reports of whether or not the Cubs are completely out in the race to sign Harper, a word from one of Harper's longtime friends shouldn't be brushed aside.

Bryant and Harper took the field together in the 2016 MLB All-Star game, and faced off in the 2017 NLDS Cubs-Nats matchup. 

The pair have known each other since grade schoool, and played for rival high schools in Las Vegas. But despite their history, Bryant says that they haven't chatted much about the situation otherwise, choosing to focus on preserving their friendship.

"I never bring it up to him," Bryant admitted. "I try to be a good friend to him, and not talk about baseball when he doesn't want to talk about baseball."

"Whatever happens, I wish [him] the best."

You can see more of Bryant's interview with NBCSC below.