Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with Mark Lerner. (Alex Brandon/AP)

Bryce Harper’s brand of baseball has been described in many ways over the past few months. Over the weekend, Mark Lerner offered up a new one.

The Nats owner sat down with MASN’s Kristina Akra before Saturday’s Yankees game, and she asked him whether Harper’s play is rubbing off on other players.

“I think it’s kind of a joy rub,” Lerner said. “Everybody knows how great a kid he is — and his abilities are incredible — but I think that he’s also there to learn, too. He doesn’t sit back and wait for people to approach him, he’s always approaching guys — Rick Ankiel and Ryan Zimmerman and others — to learn about the game. To learn how he’s supposed to conduct himself, learn things about pitchers, how to position himself, whatever it is. He’s out there to learn everything he can every day, and my hat’s off to him.”

Lerner also mentioned the P word, which is going to be impossible to hide from the rest of this season. This came after he was asked about the Nats’ starting pitching.

“I’ll tell you, you get spoiled,” he said. “You expect it every night after a while. They’ve been incredible, every one of them. That’s the thing that will hopefully get us to the playoffs, if these guys can stay healthy and stay consistent. There’s nothing more important than good pitching and good defense, and I think we’ve got both.”

And he was also asked about the clubhouse dynamics.

I think the number one thing I’ve learned since our family bought the team was how much clubhouse chemistry means to an organization,” Lerner said.

“And we’ve gone from down here,” he continued, lowering his hand, “to up here. Last year too was a great clubhouse; this is an outstanding clubhouse. They all like being with each other, they enjoy their company, they love playing together. It’s so important. This is the kind of thing that will take us to the next level.”

And the Yankees series, with the attendant buzz?

“It’s almost like a dream,” he said. “We’ve worked very hard since we got the team in ‘06 to get us to the stage where these kinds of games mean something, and we’re finally there. It’s very exciting.”


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