Of all the praise showered on Bryce Harper for his dazzling rookie season, Davey Johnson’s Wednesday morning plug may have be the most exuberant.
“I mean, Bryce might be my favorite player of all time,” the Nats’ manager said on his first weekly appearance with the Junkies on 106.7 The Fan. “Because he plays the game as hard as anybody can play it, and he never lets up. He’s wonderful to watch.”
“I think he’s a Pete Rose guy,” Johnson later said, when asked if Harper’s enthusiasm might one day wane. “He’s just gonna be full-bore for probably 30 years. You know, there’s no let-up in this young man. He wants to be great. His parents were great; they taught him the right way. And he’s just a dandy. My guys love watching him play, and the umpires, and people around the league, they like to see it. This is old-time, hard-nosed baseball.”
Johnson also talked about his enthusiastic preseason predictions of a playoff berth for a team that had never known success, and whether this first-place season has surprised him.
“I’ll tell ya, I knew the talent was there,” he said. “You know, I’m not blind. I may be old, but I can see talent. All we had to do was play up to our ability. And if we did that, I thought we could win our division....The young studs in the organization really have held us in there. Because we’ve had big injuries, and they’ve been the guys that have been the mainstays.”
And Johnson also discussed the team meeting he held last month, when the Nats seemed stuck in a summer spiral.
“Well guys, first of all, I’m a pretty good manager, and I know that,” he said. “You know why I had that meeting? I had it for you guys, so you guys would think I was doing something. I said nothing. I said, ‘Hey guys, we’re fine. You know those [media] guys out there, it’s good we can kick ‘em out of the clubhouse and have a little peace in here.’ That was it.”
He went into his motivational tricks a bit more later in the appearance.
“Hey guys, we’re in a pennant race,” he said. “These guys come to the ballpark, they’re flying high, man. They can’t wait. The energy’s there. Trust me. I don’t have to do a Knute Rockne on these guys. They’re pumped. Believe it.”
Oh, and he also said Citi Field is “like a morgue,” said Major League pitchers are “kind of dumb, and they get in patterns,” said Harper has “a steel trap for a mind,” promised that Edwin Jackson is “gonna be lights out against Atlanta this weekend,” said Jackson and Jordan Zimmermann “can do 300 innings this year if need be,” and requested that his introductory music involve the Monkees, since people used to call him Davy Jones.
He was also asked about the Phillies’ recent surge.
“You know what, the way I look at it, I like playing the best and hottest teams,” Johnson said. “Because you know what, you’ve got to get through ‘em, you’ve got to beat ‘em....I don’t care, bring ‘em on man, let’s go.”
Johnson will be on the station every Wednesday at 8:25 a.m. You should probably set your alarm.