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Williams makes clear: Harper not headed to Minors

Nationals skipper strongly clarifies earlier radio comments on outfielder

WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Matt Williams sternly clarified his comments regarding the struggling Bryce Harper, saying that sending him to the Minors is not a possibility being considered.

When asked if a temporary demotion for Harper was "in the realm of possibility right now," Williams answered, "I will caution everybody in this room -- the minute you think you can read my ... mind, you're sorely mistaken. It [ticks] me off to even think about the fact that somebody would take a comment that I make on the radio and infer that I am thinking one way or another. I've had it. Don't do it anymore.

"Bryce Harper is one of the guys on our team. He's a very important part of our team, just like everybody else is. Do we understand each other? It's not fair to the kid. It's not fair to the rest of the clubhouse to even think about sending Bryce Harper to the Minor Leagues or to cause a stir. It's unacceptable. It won't happen."

Williams' response comes after the first-year skipper appeared on 106.7 The Fan's The Sports Junkies on Wednesday morning.

In the second question of the interview, the hosts inquired about Harper's recent slump -- he was hitting .214 entering Wednesday night's action since coming back from a torn left thumb ligament on June 30, and went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in Tuesday night's loss to the Mets.

"Is it a terrible idea -- just a wacky idea -- to send him down to Syracuse for a week, just to get him right?" one of the hosts asked. "Is that just a stupid idea on my part?"

Williams answered: "I don't know. I don't think it's stupid. Generally, if you have young players, that's what you do. But this guy is a special young player. We all know that. It's different. I think he works hard every day. He's the first one in the ballpark, generally, to get his day going. He's grinding.

"We're doing everything we can to get a good feel going in there and help him with his confidence and all that. It's not easy, by any stretch. But I don't know if it's a good idea at this point to do that, because it's completely different pitching. We all know the big difference between Triple-A pitching and big league pitching. It's probably more of an option to have him feel good here, get it back."

Daniel Popper is an associate reporter for
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