Mike Rizzo is Proud of Bryce Harper, But is Done Talking About Cole Hamels

May 10, 2012 – 6:00 am by Eric Schmoldt

Mike Rizzo certainly wasn’t quiet after Cole Hamels hit budding young star Bryce Harper with a pitch this past week. Hamels admitted throwing at the Nationals’ teenager and Rizzo, the Nationals’ general manager, fired back calling the move classless and gutless and labeling the Philadelphia pitcher “fake tough.”

Rizzo isn’t backing off of those comments after being penalized by Major League Baseball for them. But he’s not really expounding on them, either. Rizzo declined to discuss the topic much further in this interview, but said he’s proud of everything Harper has done thus far. How couldn’t he be?

Mike Rizzo joined 106.7 The Fan in Washington D.C. with Holden and Danny to discuss the Hamels/Harper situation, Nationals fans, the budding rivalry with Philadelphia, Jayson Werth’s comments about the Phillies, if anything’s surprising him about Harper and Harper’s maturity.

Are you glad you said what you did regarding Cole Hamels?:

“You know, here’s what I’m going to say about that: I think I’ve said plenty about Cole Hamels. I stand by my statement, we’ve moved on from it and we’re not going to talk about it anymore.”

Why did you make those comments?:

“We’re not going to talk about it. I stand by the comments that I made. I thought it needed to be said, protecting one of our teammates, our family members. … That’s what I stand on.”

How successful do you think Take Back the Park was for the last series?:

“I thought that the Nationals fans were terrific. I love the fanbase that we have. They’re a vocal, vibrant fanbase; they’re very baseball savvy. And I thought they were loud and extremely excited. I was fired up about the attendance and energy in the ballpark. And we took two out of three from a really good Phillies team and I was really happy about that.”

With everything that went down, is that a brewing rivalry?:

“Well, yeah, they’re the defending champs and we want what they already have. I think they’re a rivalry, as are the Braves and the Marlins. But the Phillies are the defending champs, so they’re the ones that everyone’s gunning for in the division and they’re the ones we have to overtake to get where we want to be.”

Jayson Werth had some outspoken comments about Phillies fans. What did you think about that?:

“Nobody’s going to tell Jayson Werth what to say, on the record, off the record. He’s a grown man, he’s been in baseball his whole life, he’s a third-generation big-leaguer and really a real good player. So he can speak for himself. I don’t need to address what he thinks. It’s a big blow for us because he’s our leader on the team, a leader in the clubhouse and our five-hole hitter. … Guys gotta step up until he returns and kind of pick up the slack for him being out.”

Are you surprised by anything from Bryce Harper at this point or did you expect all this?:

“I think performance on the field and preparation for the game and baseball instincts and his performance has been true to form. … I do think that the off-the-field stuff has been terrific, the maturity level with the savvy with the media and the impact that he’s had on the game is probably a little bit ahead of where I thought he would be. He’s been terrific.”

On Harper’s reaction to being hit and just running down to first and going about his business:

“We always thought of him as a great kid. We always thought he had great makeup from the day we signed him. We’ve done all the work on him. He’s just a terrific young kid, very religious, very family orientated and you never heard anything wrong about this kid off the field. … We’re proud of him and proud that he’s a National.”

Listen to Mike Rizzo on 106.7 The Fan in Washington D.C. here

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