WASHINGTON -- In his third at-bat during Tuesday night's 6-1 loss to the Mets at Nationals Park, Bryce Harper skied an 0-1 fastball from right-hander Zack Wheeler to deep left field. The pitch was located down and away, but Harper was able to square the barrel of his bat to the ball, sending it soaring toward the blue seats.
But the well-struck ball fell short, and left fielder Eric Campbell secured the catch on the warning track for the final out of the sixth inning as Harper rounded first base. In frustration, the left-handed slugger took off his helmet and smashed it to the ground. The sound could be heard around the stadium.
"I'm OK with it," manager Matt Williams said of the outburst. "We've all been there. We've all been in that position where it looks like somebody's throwing an aspirin up there. But it can turn quickly, too, and some days it just looks like a beach ball as well."
Harper finished the contest 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He's now batting .214 since his return from the disabled list on June 30 after missing 57 games with a torn left thumb ligament. The 21-year-old has tried anything and everything to get comfortable at the plate during his recent slump, including a number of different stances that vary in hand placement and stature, but nothing has worked.
Nonetheless, Williams is in full support of Harper, largely because the outfielder continues to put forth the effort to improve.
"I'm fine with him," Williams said. "He's working hard. He works hard every day. He gets here, he's one of the first guys here to work. And he's working through it. So I'm good with it. He's grinding up there."
Daniel Popper is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.