WASHINGTON — Bryce Harper hit the ball to the mound, jogged toward first base and took a right turn to the dugout before getting halfway down the basepath.
That was his final play in the Nationals' 4-3 loss to the Cardinals on Saturday.
First-year manager Matt Williams will tolerate physical miscues, such as the error that provided St. Louis three unearned runs, but he won't take the nonchalance that the normally aggressive Harper displayed during his sixth-inning jog.
"Lack of hustle. That's why he came out of the game," Williams said. "He and I made an agreement — this team made an agreement — that when we play the game, that we hustle at all times."
In his third season, Harper, 21, is one of Washington's brightest lights and already a two-time All-Star. The outfielder once ran into a wall in pursuit of a fly ball. But on this day, Harper was left explaining his casual approach on a comebacker.
"I respect what (Williams) did," Harper said. "That's part of the game."
Harper was replaced by Kevin Frandsen, who entered as Washington's leftfielder in the seventh and assumed Harper's position as the second batter in the lineup.
RULE TWEAKS ON TAP: Baseball is discussing adjustments to rules on home plate collisions and transfer plays, foxsports.com reported.
Major League Baseball and the players union are discussing a guideline that would ask catchers to give the runner a lane to the plate in their initial positioning, further reducing the possibility of collisions, Fox Sports said.
The sides are also discussing a less strict interpretation of the transfer rule, in which umpires would rule on catches the way they did in the past, using more of a common-sense approach rather than following the letter of the law.
Rays manager Joe Maddon blasted the new interpretation of the transfer rule after an April 7 game in Kansas City, in which 2B Ben Zobrist was ruled to have dropped the ball while attempting to turn a double play. Replay appeared to show that Zobrist had possession of the ball when he stepped on the bag.
NATIONALS: OF Denard Span was activated off the seven-day disabled list after he showed no lingering effects from a concussion.
PHILLIES: LHP Cole Hamels, out all season with left biceps tendinitis, expects to be activated from the disabled list Wednesday.
PIRATES: C Chris Stewart was activated from the 15-day disabled list, and 1B Travis Ishikawa was cut. Also, C Tony Sanchez was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear roster space for 1B Ike Davis, acquired Friday from the Mets.
RANGERS: OF Jim Adduci went on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured left little finger. INF Luis Sardinas was recalled from Double-A Frisco.
REDS: LH reliever Sean Marshall, out since spring training with shoulder soreness, was activated from the 15-day disabled list, and RHP Curtis Partch was optioned to Triple-A Louisville.
WHITE SOX: RHP Felipe Paulino went on the 15-day disabled list because of right rotator cuff inflammation.
YANKEES: Closer David Robertson pitched in an extended spring training game for the first time since being sidelined by a groin strain, and the right-hander said he expected to rejoin the team Tuesday.