Harper voiced his enthusiasm for working with new boss Dusty Baker on MLB Network in an interview after accepting the National League Most Outstanding Player Award as part of the Player’s Choice Awards.
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“I think you see that smile on my face,” Harper said when asked about the new staff. “I’m definitely very excited to have him. Being able to play for a guy like Dusty, somebody that’s been there, been around the game for a long, long time, played for the Dodgers early, being able to do the things with him, try to learn from him. Also, learning from a guy in Davey Lopes, one of the best first base coaches in the game and one of the best baserunning coaches in the game, also. I’m very excited for that, and also Mike Maddux, being able to pick his brain about pitchers and seeing the tendencies that other pitchers throw with. I’m very excited to have the team that we do. We finally have an all-star staff and it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m very excited.”
Beyond the usual player-speak, it’s no secret that the Nationals clubhouse was toxic under Matt Williams, so Harper’s comments don’t come as a huge surprise, even if they weren’t meant as a shot at the previous regime. His enthusiasm for the new staff and new ideas is palpable. At the very least, hopefully Baker would actually notice if Jonathan Papelbon tried to choke Harper again.