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Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 05/11/2012

Bryce Harper has a learning moment in the outfield


There have been plenty of moments that make you forget Bryce Harper is 19 years old and still learning how to play the outfield. He crashed into the Dodger Stadium fence to make a catch. Wednesday night, he covered perhaps 100 feet to make a backhanded, running catch on the warning track in center. He later misread a ball, but used his athleticism to recover and make a diving catch.

Last night brought a moment that reminded you Harper is still learning, especially when it comes to flashing his powerful right arm and when to harness it.

In the fourth inning, with Jose Tabata on second base, Andrew McCutchen flared a single down the right field line. Harper hustled to scoop it up, spun and, for a split second, surveyed the infield.

Tabata had already rounded third, and even Harper’s strong arm would not prevent him from scoring. But Harper reared and unleashed a wild throw anyway, and it skipped away from catcher Jesus Flores, sending McCutchen to second.

After Stephen Strasburg struck out Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker singled to score McCutchen. If not for Harper’s error, the Pirates would have led 1-0 rather than 2-0.

“I just made a mistake,” Harper said. “You got to learn from it.”

Davey Johnson saw the play differently. Whether he wanted to protect the 19-year-old or really thought he made the right play or he just likes Harper so dang much, Johnson absolved him and put the blame for the play on two veterans. He said LaRoche should have positioned himself closer to the plate, and that Flores should have handled the throw.

“Actually, if you want to know the truth, LaRoche should have been the cutoff man,” Johnson said. “He should have cut it. I don’t blame him for coming up and throwing. He threw a pea and the catcher couldn’t handle it. That’s a play where LaRoche should come back handle it and be the cutoff man.”

The Nationals are glad Harper is such an aggressive thrower in the outfield. But he knows there are times when he needs to rein in his arm, and he will learn from last night.

FROM THE POST

Boz writes baseball cannot get any more fun than watching a player like Bryce Harper arrive and come into his own.

The Nationals won 4-2 after Davey Johnson called a team meeting, but because Stephen Strasburg struck out 13.

FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL

Marrero has a setback

Ramos regressing on defense?

Davey calls team meeting

Strasburg innings limit poll

A weird night in Pittsburgh

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Syracuse 5, Durham 1: Xavier Paul went 1 for 3 with a home run. Carlos Maldonado went 1 for 3 with a home run. Jim Negrych went 1 for 3 with a home run. Yunesky Maya allowed no earned runs in seven innings on seven hits and a walk, striking out four.

Akron 7, Harrisburg 0: Jeff Kobernus went 2 for 4. Destin Hood went 2 for 4 and committed an error.

Potomac 5, Salem 2: Kevin Keyes went 2 for 3 with a home run and a double. Zach Walters went 2 for 4. Cameron Selik pitched two scoreless relief innings, allowing no walks and no hits while striking out three.

Lexington 6, Hagerstown 3: Cutter Dykstra went 1 for 4 with a walk.

By  |  07:00 AM ET, 05/11/2012

 
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