Amid the onslaught of criticism manager Matt Williams has received for the Washington Nationals' second-half collapse, he at least has one major supporter in the Nats clubhouse -- one whose opinion is highly valued.
After Bryce Harper hit his second home run in the Nationals' 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday, he embraced Williams. After the game, he embraced him metaphysically.
"I love him as a manager. I absolutely do," Harper said. "He is a guy I can talk to about at-bats, approach, at-bats to at-bats. He has the fire and intensity. … He wants us to be perfect. I love that. I played for a guy out of high school [who was the same way]. My dad is exactly like that. ... I love Matt. I want to see what he thinks about hitting, things like that."
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While some of the Nats players have reportedly found it difficult to deal with Williams' intense style, Harper appreciates Williams' demeanor, and maintains he creates an enjoyable atmosphere.
"Playing for a manager like that is a lot of fun because he knows so much about the game," Harper said about Williams. "He knows so much about the at-bats. It's fun to pick his brain. He played with some of the best guys in the game. Barry Bonds to name one of them. [Williams] knows a lot about hitting. It's a lot of fun."