Phillies general manager Matt Klentak met with the media ahead of tonight’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. I wasn’t there because I was running late, but WIP’s Howard Eskin was, and he streamed some of Klentak’s comments, as he often does. So thanks, Howard.
One of the topics covered with Klentak included the struggles of right fielder Bryce Harper. Dating back to April 14, Harper has hit only .193 with a .697 OPS over his last 99 plate appearances. He’s also produced a modest .323 OBP and 31.3% strikeout rate during that span, which has obviously raised some concerns about Harper for some. Just don’t count Klentak among them. Here’s what he had to say when asked by Eskin about Harper’s recent struggles:
I mean, the short answer is no, I’m not concerned. A 26-year-old with a track record like he has, I’m going to trust in that track record. He’s, if I’m not mistaken, leading our team in doubles, he’s leading our team in walks, he still has a .370 on-base [percentage], and he’s making plays like he did last night in right field to help us win games even when he’s not hitting, so I don’t have any concerns with Bryce.
I do think we need to recognize though that all players, including the best players in the league, are going to go through stretches when they’re not at their best, and Bryce has had these before. He had a stretch like this early last year, in fact, and what great players do is they work themselves out of it. And I think one of the things, this is specific to Bryce but its also specific to a style of play, one of the things that I like Bryce’s style of play is that even when he is struggling offensively is he takes his walks. And it’s hard for players to really get into prolonged slumps when they have the patience that Bryce’s has, and that’s why we can see right now even though he may not be getting the hits he’s hoping to get, he’s still reaching base at a good clip and positively impacting our club.
You can check out the video, after the jump: