NEW YORK -- Sometime before the Nationals and Mets continue their four-game set on Saturday from Citi Field, Nationals manager Dave Martinez plans to call Bryce Harper into his office. There, the first-year skipper will have "a conversation" with his star player about one of the more notable plays from Friday's 4-2 loss to the Mets.
Down three runs and with two men on in the fifth, Harper strode to the plate representing the tying run. He then turned a 96.4-mph fastball from Noah Syndergaard into a 108-mph screeching drive -- right at Mets shortstop Amed Rosario. That was the first problem. The second was what came after: Harper barely ran out what became an easy 6-4-3 double play.
The perceived lack of hustle did not escape Martinez.
"He didn't run that ball out the way I wanted to," Martinez said. "That's a conversation Bryce and I will have tomorrow."
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The reason for Harper's jog was not injury related; he finished the game and ran hard in his final at-bat, a groundout to first. Instead, Martinez guessed it was the result of "frustration." Consistent hard contact continues to elude Harper, whose eye-bending slash line dropped to .214/.366/.471 after a 1-for-4 night.
Meanwhile, the Nats' offense remained inconsistent around him. Washington went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position Friday; Harper's fifth-inning at-bat represented the Nats' best chance to come back against Syndergaard, who departed after the frame and got the win.
Harper did not address the media after the game. His manager implied the planned chat would be constructive with his star outfielder, who is already one of the game's most scrutinized players. Harper will face an added blitz of media attention in the coming days as the face of next week's All-Star ceremonies. Harper will participate in Monday's T-Mobile Home Run Derby (8 p.m. ET on ESPN) and start Tuesday's All-Star Game presented by Mastercard (7:30 p.m. ET on FOX) for the National League, set to be played at Nationals Park in Washington.
"I got no beef with Bryce. Bryce comes every day to play," Martinez said. "I think it was out of frustration. He hit the ball hard. He crushed the ball. And it was going to be a double play."