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.
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.
“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
FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL
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.