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Harper bounces back after costly error

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Harper bounces back after costly error

It ended up being Bryce Harpers best game so far as a major league player, but it didnt begin that way.

With zero outs in the second inning, Baltimores Wilson Betemit hit a long fly ball to left field off Stephen Strasburg. Harper, playing in center, tracked it down in left fielder Tyler Moores range and called him off. A little wind and perhaps some sun got in the way and Harper missed the ball with his glove by about an inch. Betemit reached second to lead off a two-run inning that left the Nats down 3-0 after two.

I probably should have let Tyler take it, but I thought I had a good beat on it, Harper said.

The wind took it a little bit. It got me, but I should have caught it and I take full responsibility for that.

Manager Davey Johnson said afterwards he considered it a physical error, that he would have been more upset of Harper made a poor mental play. Johnson didnt necessarily agree with Harper calling off Moore, but wasnt entirely bothered by the move.

Bryce got a little over aggressive, Tyler Moore was actually under it and the wind was blowing the ball away from Harper, Johnson said.

I dont know if he took his eye off the ball a little bit to avoid Tyler, but I heard him yell all the way from in the dugout.

Harper rebounded just an inning later and redeemed himself with the team and specifically Strasburg in a big way. After the Nationals ace led off the third inning with a single off Wei-Yin Chen, Danny Espinosa moved him to third with a double.

Harper then took a high breaking ball inside and pulled it to right field, just out of Nick Markakis range. Markakis got his glove on the ball but lost it as his knee hit the field on the way down. Both runners scored as Harper stopped safely at third for his second triple of the season.

I was trying to get a pitch up, he was throwing a lot of off-speed stuff. He left the pitch up that I could drive a little bit and Markakis made a great play, Harper said.

Luckily for us, he dropped it. To be able to get something going I think was pretty huge.

The score sparked a three-run inning and an overall 180 degree turnaround for the Nationals. Washington scored two runs the next inning, another in the fifth, and cruised to a 9-3 victory over the Orioles in front of 41,918 at Nationals Park.

Harper ended the day with three runs scored, two RBI, and a walk; a well-rounded game for MLBs youngest player. On this day he showed not even a costly mistake can throw him off and prevent him from making a positive impact on a game.

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Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

Ivan Rodriguez becomes first former Nationals player to be voted into Hall of Fame

Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez became the first former Nationals player (2005-present) to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. He was inducted in his first year of eligibility, marking the 52nd first-ballot hall of famer in history. 

Rodriguez, who was the first free agent signed by current Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, played the final two seasons of his career with Washington in 2010-11. During his time in D.C. he hit .254 six homers and 68 RBI. Pudge's greatest contribution to the Nationals came from his leadership and work ethic. He guided Stephen Strasburg through his rookie season and also helped develop Wilson Ramos so he could pass the torch to him. 

During his 21-year career, Pudge made 14 all-star teams, won 13 gold gloves, won seven silver slugger awards, led his league in caught-steeling percentage nine times, and was named American League MVP in 1999 with the Texas Rangers. He became a World Series champion in 2003 with the Florida Marlins. Pudge's 13 gold gloves are the most ever by a catcher, and his 2,844 career hits are the most ever by a player who appeared in 50 percent or more of their career games as a catcher.  

In addition to Rodriguez, former Montreal Expos great Tim Raines was inducted to the Hall of Fame. Raines is the franchise leader (Expos/Nationals) in walks (793), runs (947), stolen bases (635) and triples (82). Raines was an all-star seven times and he won a silver slugger in 1986 with the Expos. He is the only player in MLB history with at least 100 triples, 150 homers and 600 RBI in a career, and the only player to steal at least 70 bases in six consecutive seasons. 

Related: Bryce Harper wants Nationals to spend money on players, not team store

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Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper wants Nationals to invest in Matt Wieters, Greg Holland more than facilities

Bryce Harper isn't one to keep his opinions to himself. The Nationals slugger is outspoken about what he wants, whether that's to "Make Baseball Fun Again" or to make at least $400 million on his next contract

On Wednesday, he gave his take on how the Nats should be investing their money this summer. Here's Harper responding to a tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden.

Harper's message: Players over everything else. Sorry, gift shop. 

It's plain to see where the 2015 NL MVP is going with this. Obviously, he wants as much talent around him as possible for a chance to win the World Series. 

Matt Wieters, a four-time All-Star catcher, and Greg Holland, a two-time All-Star closer, could be significant additions to Washington's roster. 

Harper is set to become a free agent in 2018, at which point an organization like the New York Yankees will be prepared to offer him both a massive salary and a massive investment in the players around him.

The slugger probably hopes his current team will try to surround him with winning pieces in an effort to keep him. But if a report about the Nationals' reaction to his contract demands proves accurate, they may have another agenda. 

There's Harper drama around the Nationals? Just a regular Wednesday here in Washington.

MORE NATIONALS: Nationals avoid arbitration with Harper, three others