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."
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."