Bryce Harper showing signs of improvement at the plate


Bryce Harper. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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If there was anything encouraging about the Nationals’ offense in Tuesday’s scoreless loss, it was the continued improvement of Bryce Harper at the plate. For much of the past week, Harper has struggled to find himself in the batter’s box.

When he returned from the all-star break, Harper featured a new stance — “stack and jack,” as it was nicknamed — in which he stood upright and held the bat near his chest. But after six games, he ditched it and began using various different stances. In one game over the weekend in Cincinnati, he used a different variation of a batting stance in each at-bat.

But since Sunday, Harper has mostly settled on his old stance. He holds the bat high near his shoulder and slightly bends his knees. Since Monday, however, Harper’s timing has been better, he looked more relaxed at the plate and the results have shown it. And he has stuck with one stance. Harper is 4 for 7 with a walk in the series with Miami.

Through the first five innings of Tuesday’s game, Harper produced the Nationals’ only hits. In his first at-bat, he ripped an outside fastball to right field for a single. In his second at-bat, he again laced a fastball to right for a single. Earlier during batting practice, he was driving line drives to both fields when earlier during the roadtrip he wasn’t.

“I feel good,” Harper said .”There’s nothing I can do. I try to come in here every single day and try to get better and have good ABs. That’s pretty much it.”

In the absence of Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman, Harper hit fifth on Tuesday after primarily hitting sixth since he returned from the disabled list. As Harper heats up, he could likely move up in the lineup to help fill the void in production.

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NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Syracuse was cancelled.

Richmond 5, Harrisburg 2: Austin Voth allowed three runs on four hits and struck out seven over four innings in his Class AA debut. Zach Kroenke allowed one run over two innings. Caleb Ramsey and Matt Skole each had a hit.

Myrtle Beach 8, Potomac 6: Matthew Spann coughed up five runs on nine hits over six innings. Richie Mirowski allowed three unearned runs. Randolph Oduber and Brandon Miller each had two hits.

Hagerstown 8, Greenville 4: Nick Pivetta allowed four runs on 10 hits over seven innings and struck out seven. Jake Johansen fired two scoreless innings of relief. Carlos Lopez and Wilmer Difo each homered. Wilman Rodriguez went 3 for 4 with two doubles.

Jamestown 3, Auburn 2: Travis Ott gave up three runs and walked three over 3 2/3 innings. David Ramos fired 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Clay Williamson, Jose Marmolejos-Diaz and Osvaldo Abreu each had two hits.

James Wagner joined the Post in August 2010 and, prior to covering the Nationals, covered high school sports across the region.
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James Wagner · July 29

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