"I'm not opposed to him laying a bunt down with two strikes. We've seen guys do it before," Williams said. "If he gets that bunt down, it's a base hit. I'm not concerned about that. He is trying to do things to help us win."
Two innings later, Harper hit a routine ground ball to first baseman Albert Pujols, who bobbled the ball. At first, Harper didn't run hard to first base, but once he saw that Pujols couldn't handle the grounder, Harper ran hard and was safe on the play. Pujols was charged with an error on the play.
This past Saturday, Harper was taken out of the game after six innings for not running hard to first base against the Cardinals. This time, Williams defended Harper.
"He was safe at first base. That's all I care about," Williams said. "We are not asking him to go 100 percent all the time -- as fast as he could possibly go, every single moment. Not everybody does. But what we expect is for him to give us a chance, and he gave us a chance on that play. The ball was mishandled by Albert and [Harper] kicked it in gear and got on first base. That's all I care about."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.