Baker says Harper correct to avoid Wrigley wall

Baker says Harper correct to avoid Wrigley wall

CHICAGO -- Bryce Harper realizes his importance to the Nationals, and how much the success of the team hinges on him staying healthy and contributing every day.

That's why, even though he did all he could to catch Addison Russell's go-ahead two-run double in Saturday's 8-5 loss to the Cubs, Harper wisely stopped short of running into the brick wall in right field, which has scant padding.

"I'm not going to run into the wall, plain and simple," Harper said. "I'd rather be in the lineup every day. That's just not going to happen."

Winds were gusting at 20 miles per hour when Russell lofted a pop fly in a tie game with the bases loaded in the seventh, closer to the wall near foul ground in right field. Harper chased, but pulled up a bit as he neared the wall, and the ball nicked off his glove and landed just inside the line in fair territory.

Before Saturday's game, manager Dusty Baker spoke about how tough it is to play at Wrigley Field when the wind is blowing and with so little foul ground. So he was in total agreement that Harper had done all he could, and was glad that he stopped short of the wall.

"No, there's nothing, outside of running into that wall and hurting yourself," Baker said. "They've got padding out there, but that pad doesn't help."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.