Johnson pleased with Harper's play, demeanor

Johnson pleased with Harper's play, demeanor

Johnson pleased with Harper's play, demeanor
PHILADELPHIA -- Before Wednesday's game, Nationals manager Davey Johnson said he didn't think there will be any ill will between Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels and Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper.

"That is a dead issue," Johnson said.

Harper showed how to get revenge in a 9-3 loss to the Phillies on May 6 at Nationals Park. With two outs in the first inning, Hamels hit Harper in the back with his first pitch to the 19-year-old rookie, then acknowledged after the game that it was his intention to hit Harper.

After getting drilled, Harper advanced to third on a single by Jayson Werth. Harper was then able to pay Hamels back by stealing home while the pitcher tried to pick off Werth at first base. Harper became the second player in Nationals history to steal home, and the first to do so on a straight steal.

"The only thing that exacerbated it is Hamels saying something," Johnson said. "He didn't head hunt or nothing like that. He hit one of my good hitters in the back. It didn't bother my guy. As far as I'm concerned, it's just an off-the-cuff remark from a left-handed pitcher. ... [Wednesday's] game is more important than that little incident. It's past us."

Harper, 19, has been a valuable player ever since the Nationals called him up to the big leagues on April 28. Entering Wednesday's action, Harper was 23-for-87 (.264) with two home runs and nine RBIs. Harper already leads the team in triples with three, and has hit everywhere in the lineup except for first, fourth, eighth and ninth.

"I didn't expect him to be here as quickly as he is here," Johnson said. "I didn't expect him to look as comfortable as he looks up here. I think he is very relaxed. He is having fun, he is expressing his talent. It's much needed. His energy level [from a young player] is always important on a ballclub. It's nice having him."