Williams appreciates Harper's boldness on bases

Williams appreciates Harper's boldness on bases

MIAMI -- Even in a lopsided affair Tuesday night, the Nationals showcased their aggressiveness on the basepaths.

Down by 11 in the eighth inning, Bryce Harper singled to left field and advanced to second on Dan Jennings' wild pitch to the next batter. When Steven Souza Jr. singled up the middle, Harper held at third until he saw Marcell Ozuna's throw to the infield trickle away from cutoff man Garrett Jones. Harper scored Washington's first run on the play.

"We just allow the guys to use the tools they have," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "That's what we hope. Of course we want to be smart about it. Of course we don't want to run into an out and all of that. Sometimes it's going to happen."

Williams said that he has daily conversations with Harper about the good and bad things he did the previous day.

A few times, Harper has been overly aggressive and gotten thrown out. That happened last Saturday when Taylor Jordan struck out on a missed bunt and Harper got caught stealing third. Still, there have been three or four instances when Harper has taken an extra base.

Last Thursday, Harper raced from first to third on a groundout to second against the Marlins. Williams believes the "haywire" plays get talked about instead.

"This game is never 100 percent and nobody ever will be," Williams said. "You take that chance sometimes. That's part of our DNA, that's the way we want to play and we can't change that. I want our aggressive guys and athletic guys to use their athleticism.

"You can't take away that from him or us either. That's the style of play that we want to play. We still want to maintain aggressiveness. We still want to be a team that we are. If we can do that then over the long run I believe that we have a really good chance to win. You can't just go opposite end of the spectrum because it's part of our game."

Christina De Nicola is a contributor to MLB.com. Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.