Nats GM on Harper bat flip: 'You hit the ball that far, you do whatever the hell you want'

Chris Lingebach
April 03, 2019 - 12:37 pm

Bryce Harper night-capped his 3-for-5 game against the Nationals with the rudest of bat flips after launching a 458-foot bomb into the second deck at Nationals Park.

Mike Rizzo, who watched Harper grow up in Washington only to sign with the rival Phillies in the offseason, reacted accordingly in his weekly radio appearance with The Sports Junkies the following morning.

"Bat flips today, I would sound too much like a dinosaur if we talk about bat flips, because everyone flips, everyone stares," he said. "You hit the ball that far, you do whatever the hell you want."

The Nats GM and President of Baseball Ops. joins The Junkies each Wednesday at 9 a.m. all season long on "In The Clubhouse," a weekly segment presented by Burke & Herbert Bank.

"The best way to stop those kind of bat flips is get him out," Rizzo said. "The best way to get the buses from Philly to stop, like six and seven years ago when the Utleys, and the Howards and the Hamels crew was here, beat 'em.

"And we did for many, many years at a 58 percent clip, 77-56 since 2012. That's how how you stop the buses from coming. So to stop the buses from coming this time, you start beating 'em again. We feel good about our chances to win today, we feel good about our chances to win the division, and we feel good about the team that we have."

The Nats will have to power through without starting shortstop Trea Turner, who hit the 10-day injured list Wednesday after breaking his right index finger on a bunt attempt in Tuesday's 8-2 loss.

"It's a clean break. It's not displaced, which means there's no surgery involved – no pin has to be inserted and that type of thing," Rizzo described the injury. "When the bone is healed, it's healed. Everyone's bones heal differently. Matt Adams was out three weeks with this injury last year. It was the non-throwing hand, and Trea's is his throwing hand, so that makes it a little bit more tenuous. We're gonna be playing without one of our good players for a while, so let's suck it up and strap it on and let's go."

The Nationals elected to recall Adrian Sanchez from Triple-A Fresno, and Wilmer Difo will handle the bulk of the shortstop duties in Turner's stead. 21-year-old Carter Kieboom, Washington's top prospect at Fresno, is "not ready just yet" for his first big-league callup, Rizzo says.

"We don't feel he's ready to play shortstop in the big leagues on an everyday level at this time," he said. "We've seen this before. A couple years ago, Trea got hit on the wrist and was out for a couple of months, and Difo filled in. He played great, so we feel that he's a very, very capable reinforcement over there at shortstop.

"He can really play the position defensively. He's got good speed as you know and throws really well, and when he played every day in Trea's absence before, he was much more consistent at the plate and had a good year for us. That's what we're hoping to do. We want to get 'Boomer' some more reps at shortstop and second base in Triple-A. He's not too far away, but he's just not ready just yet."

Rizzo was asked rather bluntly, "Did last night piss you off?"

"No, not at all. I don't know what I would be pissed about," he answered. "Going into this thing, we knew what this National League East was gonna be about. It's gonna be a monster. Every game is gonna be like these. They're gonna be grinder games, they're gonna be high rivalry games, they're gonna be high-emotion games, because we know there's a lot at stake."

"We're just scratching the surface of the season," he said. "But these games are (as) important as they are in September. We recognize that. Thank God there's a game today at 1 o'clock. We can win one and feel better about ourselves going to New York."

Every week, all baseball season, if any Washington player hits for the cycle during a Wednesday game, one lucky fan wins a cool $100K. Click here to enter the Burke & Herbert "Bank On The Cycle" contest!

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