It was a case of Las Vegas on Las Vegas baseball crime.
Or at least a misdemeanor.
When Las Vegan Bryce Harper failed to run out a ground ball Saturday against the Cardinals, he was promptly benched by Nationals manager Matt Williams, who played his college baseball at UNLV.
“No, lack of hustle. That’s why he came out of the game,” Williams said to reporters after the game. “The inability to run 90 feet.”
“We made an agreement. He and I made an agreement, this team made an agreement, that when you play the game that we hustle at all times, that we play the game with intensity and a willingness to win.”
The play happened in the sixth inning. Harper hit a tapper back to the mound and slowly ran to first base, turning to the dugout as Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams caught the throw from Lance Lynn.
“I respect what he did,” Harper said of Williams’ decision after the Nationals’ 4-3 defeat. “It’s part of the game.”
Washington outfielder Jayson Werth also supported Williams’ decision.
“I’ve played on teams where if you don’t hustle, you get taken out of the game. It’s pretty standard,” Werth said. “I think that’s part of the game. You show up here, you be on time, you hustle. Not a lot is asked of us.”
Williams said Harper would return to the lineup on Sunday.