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Mike Rizzo on Bryce Harper: 'He's healthy... What more can I say?'

Mike Rizzo on Bryce Harper: 'He's healthy... What more can I say?'

Is Bryce Harper healthy, or is he hurt? That seems to be the main question surrounding the Nationals these days, with the playoffs coming up and the reigning NL MVP's numbers way down compared to last season.

On Tuesday, SI's Tom Verducci backed up an earlier report he made with a sourced piece saying that Harper is indeed dealing with a shoulder ailment. On Wednesday, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo called into the Sports Junkies and, like he did with Verducci's inital story, denied it strongly.

"We're saying the same thing that we said for the last month, that he's healthy," Rizzo said. "And he is. And we're moving on with it. There's really nothing to add to it. There's no shoulder issues, there's no shoulder problems. He had that neck issue for about five days and we held him out, and that's it."

If he's 100%, then what's up with his steep drop in production? Rizzo didn't have an exact answer, but he tried to talk through the situation with the Junkies and, in the end, said he's confident it'll come to an end eventually. 

"There's a lot of things that go into it," he explained. "It's such a complicated subject... He's got bat speed, he's got strength, he's got power. It's often a balance issue which tends to  — guys [tend] to be over-aggressive at the plate, to lunge at times, to lose the strike zone where you're swinging at pitches outside your comfort zone. So there's a lot that goes into it. Great hitters get out of these things just by hitting, and like I've said all along, this is a guy that's, he's of the best players in the game and one day he's going to snap out of it and get on a roll and carry this team for a long, long time."

Not satisfied, Jason "Lurch" Bishop tried to push the executive more on why these reports keep coming out if No. 34 is fine. Before he could get very far in his question, however, he was interrupted.

"I'm saying that the information of him having a shoulder issue is inaccurate," Rizzo said. "What more can I say? I sat with the player, the trainer, the team physician and the manager in his office and asked the pertinent questions that you would ask a player straight-out like we attack every problem here, and he does not have a shoulder issue."

Can't get much clearer than that. 

MORE NATIONALS: LOOKING AT NATS' CHANCES FOR POSTSEASON AWARDS

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Ex-Oriole Manny Machado homers off ex-National Gio Gonzalez in NLCS Game 1

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USA Today Sports

Ex-Oriole Manny Machado homers off ex-National Gio Gonzalez in NLCS Game 1

Sure, the Nationals and Orioles didn't make the playoffs, but that didn't stop a "Battle of the Beltways" moment from breaking out during NLCS Game 1.

Ex-National Gio Gonzalez started the game for the Brewers. In the second inning, ex-Oriole Manny Machado stepped to the plate for the Dodgers.

Here's what happened next:

If you squint, you can imagine the ball flying into the Nationals Park bullpen or the Camden Yards bleachers. 

And in case you're wondering, we have indeed entered the Twilight Zone. 

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Nationals get offseason started by acquiring righty reliever Kyle Barraclough from Marlins

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USA Today Sports

Nationals get offseason started by acquiring righty reliever Kyle Barraclough from Marlins

The Washington Nationals picked up righty reliever Kyle Barraclough from Miami in their first offseason move to rebuild the bullpen.

The Nationals said Wednesday that they gave the Marlins international slot value in the deal.

The hard-throwing Barraclough went 1-6 with 4.20 ERA and 10 saves in 17 chances, with 61 appearances this year. He allowed one hit in 36 at-bats in June, when he was chosen NL reliever of the month, but struggled with his command the rest of the season.

Barraclough's ERA ballooned to 10.24 over his final 24 games and he lost the Marlins closer's job.

He has a career ERA of 3.21 with 279 strikeouts and 134 walks in 218 2/3 innings over four seasons, all with Miami.

Washington general manager Mike Rizzo is in need of relievers after jettisoning Shawn Kelley and Brandon Kintzler late this season.

The deal helps the Marlins in their pursuit of top international free-agent Victor Victor Mesa, a Cuban outfielder who tried out for major league scouts at Marlins Park last week.

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