Getting tossed should be lesson for Nationals' Harper

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,MLB,Nationals,Brian McNally

It has become a recurring theme this season. Nationals rookie outfielder Bryce Harper gets frustrated over his own failure and reacts like, well, the teenager that he is.

Earlier in the season he bashed a bat against a wall in Cincinnati and had it rocket back at him. He was left bleeding in the outfield. There have been other slammed helmets and smashed bats. It's almost always directed at himself -- as it was Wednesday in Miami when Harper hit into a ninth-inning double play and slammed his batting helmet to the ground as he crossed the bag.

Umpire C.B. Bucknor wasn't about to let that go, however. He immediately ejected Harper, who was incredulous. Davey Johnson ran out to protest, but in his heart he was fine with the call. He wished Bucknor had showed some restraint but also understands that won't always happen. Harper put himself in a bad spot. The learning curve continues.

"Everything [Harper] does is kind of full bore. He's not going to lay the helmet down just like he's not going to jog to first," Johnson said. "I look at things for the best. That needs to be nipped in the bud because it could cost us a ballgame. It was not directed toward the umpire or whatever. It was more expressing his emotions over hitting into a double play. But that's part of the learning process."

Johnson compared Harper's temper to another phenom he once managed. Infielder Gregg Jefferies was a much-hyped prospect in the late 1980s with the New York Mets and had similar issues controlling his frustrations as a young player. Eventually he matured -- though Johnson wryly noted it was after he had been fired and Jefferies had been traded.

- Brian McNally

bmcnally@washingtonexaminer.com

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