- The Washington Times - Monday, December 14, 2015

One of Matt Williams’ biggest supporters also happens to be the National League MVP. Sunday, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper reiterated his positive feelings about Williams. He also said he looks forward to playing for Dusty Baker.

“Dusty Baker has been in a lot of clubhouses and had a lot of superstar players and been around the game for a long, long time,” Harper said. “Played for some great teams, as well. Just the addition of [first base coach] Davey Lopes and [pitching coach] Mike Maddux and those guys, it’s going to be a lot of fun for us.”

Harper, who recently turned 23 years old, was named the unanimous MVP. He had the best age 22 season since Ted Williams in 1941. He credited Williams for part of his success, speaking publicly toward the end of the year about how much Williams had helped him at the plate. Harper also hugged Williams in the dugout following a late-season home run. Harper said he backs the organization when it comes to decisions like who is manager.

“I think that was just what the organization wanted and everything the organization wants to do, I’m all for it,” Harper said. “I’m all aboard with whatever they want to do, if that’s with the manager, with the team or with prospects in the minors. I’m all for this organization.

“I tip my cap to what Matt did for me and being able to learn from a guy like that, a guy who hit over 50 homers in one year and then how many in his career? He was awesome to be able to talk to every single day with hitting-wise. I’ve talked to him a couple times this offseason. I’ve wished him best of luck. See him down the road, definitely.”

One thing that has evaporated from Harper’s game the last two seasons are stolen bases. In 2014, he stole just two bases. Last season, it was six. His first two seasons in the league, he reached double-figures in stolen bases. Harper hopes Lopes can help him become a better baserunner — improving what is already among a myriad of strong suits — and that he receives the green light. Asked if he might run more, Harper hinted was restricted.

“If I’m allowed to,” Harper said. “I know I can score from first … I did a couple times. It would be nice to score from second or third. Hopefully, I can get a little bit better on the basepaths.”

Two other things Harper is hoping for: That the Nationals bring back Ali Modami, who threw left-handed batting practice to Harper before each game. And, that pitching prospect Lucas Giolito has a shot to join the big league roster. General manager Mike Rizzo said that Giolito will be in major league camp in the spring.

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