Harper on missed catch: 'I'm not going to run into the wall, plain and simple'
Saturday afternoon, Bryce Harper failed to catch a fly ball near the wall, allowing the Cubs to score two runs. Afterwards he said he's not running into walls anymore because he wants to stay healthy.
One of the biggest plays in Saturday's game was Addison Russell's two-run double in the seventh inning. That broke a 5-5 tie. Here's video of the play:
As you can see, Bryce Harper very nearly caught the ball, though he pulled up at the last second to avoid crashing into the wall. The ball hit his glove and landed on the foul line, meaning the ball was fair. It's unclear if the ball would have landed foul had he Harper not gotten some glove on it.
After the game Harper told reporters his days of crashing into walls are over. He'd rather stay healthy. Here's what Harper said, via Mark Zuckerman of MASN Sports:
“I’m not going to run into the wall, plain and simple,” Harper said. “Got as close as I could and put my glove out and (the ball) nicked off it. Things happen. I’m not going to do it again - run into a wall - and I’m not playing for another year and not feeling healthy. I’d rather be in the lineup every day. That’s just not going to happen.”
Manager Dusty Baker and several other Nationals players backed Harper's decision to pull up and not crash into the wall. They want him healthy this season too.
Early in his career Harper had no trouble crashing into walls. Most notably, he suffered a knee injury in 2013 after running into a wall to make a catch, and the injury lingered all season. Harper was never quite right after that.
There's playing hard and playing smart. Harper plays very hard, perhaps too hard, which is why he hurt himself so many times earlier in his career. Now Harper is playing hard and playing smart. That's one of the benefits of experience.
Yes, the runs stink, but crashing into that wall Saturday is not worth the injury risk. Harper is far too valuable to play recklessly. For the Nationals to go anywhere this season, they need him healthy and on the field, not banged up because he's crashing into walls.
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