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Nats' Baker excited and well-equipped to manage Bryce Harper


Nats' Baker excited and well-equipped to manage Bryce Harper

Despite their 83-79 record and well-documented failings in 2015, the Nationals' managerial opening remained an attractive one this offseason. It's a team that is just one year removed from winning the NL East and posting the best record in the National League.

They also have a pretty decent young player in Bryce Harper, who in less than two weeks is likely to receive the NL MVP award for his historic Age 22 season. Harper is a certified superstar and his career arc will be a central focus of new manager Dusty Baker's tenure.

Harper doesn't need much help from Baker, but the relationship between he and the Nationals' skipper is an important one. Matt Williams saw both the positives and negatives of that. Williams should get credit for Harper's development, but he also felt the backlash after a miscalculated benching early in 2014.

Now Baker will take his turn leading the Nationals and Harper, who has become a face of the sport.

"This guy is a player. He can really play. I love watching him play," Baker said. "He's come a long way in a short period of time."

Baker comes to Washington with an extensive résumé of 20 seasons as an MLB manager. Along the way he has dealt with many superstars of Harper's ilk.

"I've been fortunate. I had Will Clark, Matt Williams, Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds. Then Ken Griffey, Jr., Sammy Sosa and Joey Votto. Now Bryce Harper. Hopefully... I have something that I can teach him," Baker said.

Managing players like Bonds, Kent and Sosa - and the egos that came with them - should prepare Baker for dealing with Harper and other Nationals players like Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. The 66-year-old manager can also draw from his playing days.

Baker was an accomplished player in his own right. He made two All-Star teams, won two Silver Sluggers and three times earned MVP votes.

"The thing about it is, I'm not really intimidated by stars because I was a star. I wasn't the brightest star like some of these guys, but I was a star," Baker said. 

Baker, in fact, told a story from his playing days that was very similar to Harper's late season dustup with closer Jonathan Papelbon.

"I wasn't as good as Bryce Harper, but my first year in the league I though I was the cat's meow," Baker explained. "I got kind of jacked up by the older guys. One time I had somebody's hand around my throat. I was a little cocky too, but you learn. This game, sooner or later it will humble you no matter how good you think you are."

Handling star players is an inexact science, but Baker did share some insight into his philosophy as a manager.

"I tell them that I don't care how much money you make. You're not going to give me any of your money and I'm not going to give you any of mine. When the game starts, it's not about money. It's about whether I kick your butt or you kick mine. It's as simple as that," he said.

[RELATED: Did Michael Taylor show enough to earn a starting job in 2016?]

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Nationals Roundup: Nats blow multiple leads in frustrating walk-off loss to Mets

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Nationals Roundup: Nats blow multiple leads in frustrating walk-off loss to Mets

The Nationals lost to the New York Mets, 6-5, Tuesday to drop their record to 19-29. 

Consider these news and notes as Washington trudges through its four-game series in New York: 

Players Notes:


Erick Fedde made his first start of the season for Washington Tuesday night and put together a solid outing. The 26-year-old threw five innings of one-run baseball, allowing four hits, a walk, and strikeout. Thirty-one of his 61 pitches were sinkers.

Do you believe in the broadcaster's jinx theory? Perhaps you might after reading up on what Juan Soto did in the 2nd inning Tuesday. Then, later in the 8th, Soto scorched a go-ahead double to deep right notching his 100th career RBI. 


Amed Rosario was the hero at Citi Field. His walk-off infield single off Kyle Barraclough was the difference in New York's 6-5 comeback win. 

The Mets got a quality start from starting pitcher Zack Wheeler, who threw seven innings of four-hit ball, three earned runs, two walks, and six strikeouts. 78 of his 118 pitches were thrown for strikes. 

Pete Alonso is lighting it up right now. His game-tying 417-foot home run in the 8th marked his 16th of the season. 


SP Jeremy Hellickson: hamstring, expected to be out until at least May 31

RP Justin Miller: shoulder, expected to be out until at least May 31

SP Anibal Sanchez: hamstring, expected to be out until at least May 27

OF Andrew Stevenson: back, expected to be out until at least May 24

1B Matt Adams: shoulder, expected to be out until at least May 22

1B Ryan Zimmerman: foot, expected to be out until at least May 23

RP Koda Glover: elbow, expected to be out until at least May 25

RP Trevor Rosenthal: viral infection, Expected to be out until at least May 21

RP Austen Williams: shoulder, expected to be out until at least Jun 13

Coming Up:

Wednesday, 5/22: Nationals @ Mets, 7:10 p.m. ET, Citi Field 

Thursday, 5/23: Nationals @ Mets, 12:10 p.m. ET, Citi Field

Friday, 5/24: Marlins @ Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET, Nationals Park


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Bryce Harper trolls Cubs fans after they call him overrated because of course he did

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Bryce Harper trolls Cubs fans after they call him overrated because of course he did

It's not just the City of Brotherly Love that heckles Bryce Harper from time to time, it's also one of the clubs he spurned during his offseason tour before settling on Philadelphia.

Prior to losing on a walk-off single to Cubs' star Javy Baez, Harper had a battle going on aside from the scheduled matchup, and that battle didn't involve any players on the opposing squads, but it did include the fans that fill their seats at Wrigley Field.

After the fans booed him all evening and labeled him overrated, the former Nats star chucked a fastball right over their heads and across the street.

Fortunately, the ball didn't break any nearby windows.

We hope.