Matt Williams: No rift with Bryce Harper over lineup talk

Washington Nationals Bryce Harper is congratulated by teammates after a 7-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Nationals Park, on Monday, June 30, 2014, in Washington.  (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)  Washington Nationals Bryce Harper is congratulated by teammates after a 7-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Nationals Park, on Monday, June 30, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
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Matt Williams had no problem with Bryce Harper speaking his mind about the Washington Nationals’ lineup Monday as the outfielder returned from the disabled list.

Harper said before Monday’s game that he thought the Nationals’ best lineup would consist of himself in center field, Ryan Zimmerman in left field, Anthony Rendon at third base and Danny Espinosa at second base — leaving veteran Denard Span as the odd man out. Williams instead sent Espinosa to the bench Monday and did so again Tuesday, putting Zimmerman at third and Rendon at second.


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When asked Tuesday if he had Harper had talked, Williams said they had and reiterated his support for Harper.

“I talked to Bryce, certainly,” said Williams. “I’ve got Bryce’s back, in every way. And that will not change. I want him to play every day and I want him to play the way Bryce knows how to play. He’s going to hit in different spots in the lineup, and he’s okay with that and he’s going to in different spots in the outfield and he’s okay with that too.”

The manager added that there has never been a rift between the two and they have mutual respect for one another.

“I’m happy to write his name in the lineup every day, who wouldn’t be?” said Williams. “I respect him, he respects me and like I said I’m really happy to put Harper in that lineup every day because it gives us a chance to go out there and win a ballgame.”

Williams also said the Colorado Rockies’ roster, not sending a message, was why he sent out the same lineup for Tuesday’s game.

“No more [went into it] than the fact that we’re facing a left-hander again and we’ll face another one tomorrow,” Williams said. “The way that it stacked [Monday] night we were able to create opportunities and we hope to create more tonight. Nothing beyond that.”

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