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WASHINGTON — Bryce Harper hit the ball to the mound, jogged to first base and took a right turn to the dugout before getting halfway down the basepath.

That would be his final play in the Washington Nationals’ 4-3 loss to the St. Louis 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.”

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Now in his third season, the 21-year-old Harper is one of Washington’s brightest lights and already a two-time All-Star. The outfielder once ran into a wall in the relentless pursuit of a fly ball, but on this day Harper was left explaining his casual approach on a comebacker.

“I respect what he did,” Harper said of Williams’ decision. “That’s part of the game.”

Williams said Harper would be back in the starting lineup Sunday for the series finale.


• Chicago White Sox right-hander Felipe Paulino was put on the disabled list because of right rotator-cuff inflammation. The move came a day after Paulino allowed 13 hits and 10 runs in 32
3 innings in the series opener against Texas, a 12-0 loss by the White Sox.

• Yankees closer David Robertson pitched in an extended spring-training game for the first time since being sidelined by a groin strain and expects to rejoin the team Tuesday. The right-hander allowed one hit and struck out one in 11
3 innings of an intrasquad game Saturday.

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