Bryce Harper survived a nasty collision with the right field fence Tuesday night, reaching — and missing — a fly ball off the bat of Jimmy Rollins, slamming into the fence separating the field from the bullpen and falling over on his neck.
He was fine, and stayed in the game, though he did not appear too pleased to see the ball still sitting on the grass — not reached by center fielder Roger Bernadina who had yet to approach it — when he gathered himself.
“I thought I had a play on it,” Harper said. “I thought I could catch it. Didn’t catch it.”
It was one play in a long line of forgettable ones for the Nationals on Tuesday night as they were shutout by the Phillies.
But perhaps more concerning for the Nationals and Harper is the slump he’s been in at the plate since the second half began. Since the All-Star break, Harper is hitting .171 with just three extra-base hits. He was 0-for-4 against Cliff Lee on Tuesday.
“I’m all over the place right now,” Harper admitted after the game. “I’m trying to find some mellowness at the plate and in the box.
“Just trying to work at it everyday, try to take something good from every at-bat and take something good from every game.”
Harper shot down the idea that he was trying to force things too much, wanting too badly to make things happen.
“I don’t think I’m trying to do too much at all,” he said. “I’m trying to keep my strikeouts down and my walks up. That’s the biggest thing. Trying to square some stuff up, try to have good at-bats and try to battle.”
Harper finished the game hitting .258, the lowest his average has been since May 22 — when he was in the early part of a 29-game run in which he hit .339 with a .413 on-base percentage and a .625 slugging percentage, clubbing three doubles, four triples and seven home runs.
“He’s the same,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said, asked what he’s seeing out of Harper at the plate lately. “(Lee’s) a pretty tough pitcher. I thought (Harper) was in a pretty good mood today. Had a pretty good BP. Faced a tough pitcher. He’ll be in there tomorrow.”