Harper, Nationals closer mend fences

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Washington Nationals rising star Bryce Harper, though things took a turn for the better Wednesday.

First, there was his embarrassing face-plant into the right-field wall at Dodger Stadium. Harper tried to track down a drive off the bat of A.J. Ellis but failed to remember the important part of the term “warning track.”

Take a look for yourself.

OK, so maybe it’s wise for him not to do that again. And to Harper’s credit, it seems like he learned his lesson — maybe too well.

Trying to run down a fly ball Tuesday night in the bottom of the ninth, he appeared to pull up well short of the track, leap too early and alligator-arm the ball. The ball went over his head, allowing the tying run to score from first. A litle afraid of the wall, are we?

Well, Nats closer Rafael Soriano was none too pleased with that effort and let everyone know about it.

“With two outs and the tying run at first, you have to play the outfield so the ball doesn’t go over your head,” Soriano told USA Today in Spanish while acknowledging that his hanging changeup also contributed to Gregor Blanco‘s RBI triple.

“It may not have been a catchable ball, but if we’re positioned the right way, there might have been a different outcome. With two outs, I could tell my 4-year-old son, ‘You know where you need to play,’ and he would go to the right spot to make the play. It’s not an excuse and I’m not speaking badly about anybody, but I think that’s how you play the game.”

On Wednesday morning, however, Soriano and Harper cleared the air about Soriano’s published comments, according to a Washington Post blog, with Soriano saying he had been joking when he made the "4-year-old son" comparison and Harper saying later, "Just talking about it. It’s all good."

Then, in the eighth inning of the Nationals’ 2-1 victory over the Giants on Wednesday, Harper came up with a superb catch to keep the score 1-1. (Watch video here.)

Said Harper about the catch on Hunter Pence’s liner: ‘I’m just glad I caught it," he said. "(Hitting the wall is) still in my head, and I have to try and get past it. It’s just going to take time."

With his talent, the Nationals are likely to give him all the time he needs.