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Guillen calls Harper 'unprofessional'

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Guillen calls Harper 'unprofessional'

MIAMI -- Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen lashed out at Bryce Harper following today's game, calling the Nationals rookie "unprofessional" apparently for using too much pine tar on his bat.

"I could have said a lot of stuff about this kid," Guillen said following his team's 4-0 loss to the Nationals. "I've been praising this kid like every day. The last three times they asked me about him, the only thing I said was he's a great player. What he did today was unprofessional."

What did Harper do to upset Guillen? He apparently stepped to the plate in the top of the first inning with pine tar too far up the barrel of his bat. Guillen alerted the umpiring crew, which informed the Nationals, who had Harper change to another bat for his second at-bat.

But when Harper came up to hit in the top of the third, he pointed his bat toward the Miami dugout. Guillen started yelling from his perch, first at Harper and then at Nationals manager Davey Johnson.

"I was just telling him how cute he was," Guillen said, refusing to divulge details. "Something happened there the inning before, and I didn't like it and I was talking to the umpire about it."

The Nationals didn't understand what Guillen was so upset about.

"Ozzie had complained that the pine tar was too high up on Harper's bat, so we changed it," Johnson said. "Then he was still chirping about it. It got on the umpire's nerves. It got on my nerves. He was trying to intimidate my player, I guess. That's not going to bother our player. He does what he has to do."

Harper, who went 0-for-4 during the victory, stayed above the fray after the game.

"He battles for his team, and that's the type of manager Ozzie is," the 19-year-old All-Star said. "He's a great manager to play for. He's going to battle for you, no matter what. That's a manager you want to play for."

Major League Baseball Rule 1.10(c) restricts players from putting pine tar on their bats more than 18 inches from the handle, an infraction most notably associated with Hall of Famer George Brett (who happens to be one of Harper's favorite players).

"It's such a fine line," Johnson said. "They put the pine tar, it's only supposed to be at the top of the label. Some guys, it might be over half an inch or something. There's still a foot of the barrel to hit it with. If you hit it on the pine tar, it's going to shatter everything. They replace the ball all the time, anyways. What's the big deal?"

Johnson, of course, made enemies with Rays manager Joe Maddon last month when he got Tampa Bay reliever Joel Peralta ejected for having too much pine tar in his glove.

What residual effect might there be from this incident? Nobody was saying, but Guillen suggested he would be having a chat with Johnson at some point.

"I'm not going to tell you guys what he did, because I'm not going to be talking about it on ESPN, Baseball Tonight, what happened again," the Miami manager said. "I'll just leave it like that. I'll talk to his manager in a little while."

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Bryce Harper knows why he didn't play well, but he won't specify why

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Bryce Harper struggled by his standards in 2016 and he says he know why it happened last year. While it was rumored last season that he was playing through injuries, Harper never really missed significant time, nor did he really say that his injuries were the reason for his disappointing numbers. 

Speaking with the media today at spring training, Harper hinted at his injuries from last season as he said he was just trying to stay in the lineup every day.  

Although Harper's statistics dropped off dramatically from his MVP season in 2015, his numbers weren't entirely awful last year. He still hit 24 homers, drove in 86 runs and he had an .814 OPS. 

With a full offseason to heal up, Harper will be a prime bounce-back candidate as he looks to help the Nationals win their third NL East title in the last four years. 

Related: Sorry D.C. sports fans, Bryce Harper is a Dallas Cowboys fan

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When he spoke to the media today at the first bullpen session of spring training, he said that the fracture has healed but the symptoms continue. 

Scherzer also said he'd just started throwing again this week. Manager Dusty Baker confimed that the Nationals don't know whether Scherzer will be ready to start the season. 

Any time a team's star pitcher suffers an unusual hand injury, it's cause for concern for the club and fans. 

Scherzer won the NL Cy Young Award last season and posted a 20-7 record as a starter. He also led the MLB with 284 strikeouts. 

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