Nationals new skipper Dusty Baker explained why he kept referring to Bryce Harper as "Royce" last week. Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

New Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker became the punchline of some amusing jokes last week after he erroneously referred to Bryce Harper as “Royce” on at least two occasions.

The veteran skipper defended himself this week over the gaffe by indicating that getting the first names of people correct has never been his strong suit.

“I’m not good at first names,” Baker said during an interview Tuesday on 106.7 The Fan, via D.C. Sports Bog. “The one thing you don’t understand is, in baseball, everybody calls each other by their last name basically. You don’t see a guy’s first name on the back of his jersey, and then in the military, I was in the Marines for six years, you address everybody by their last name, so I’m not good at first names. I call my nephews the wrong names sometimes. I know the guy’s name. I don’t know why I called him Royce.”

To be fair, there were a lot of new names for Baker to learn in his first spring training with the team, although one would think recalling the first name of the organization’s unquestioned franchise player wouldn’t be all that difficult.

Baker went on to explain that everything is good between himself and the reigning NL MVP, indicating that Harper even made light of it by calling him by the wrong name.

“They know who I’m talking to,” Baker pointed out, saying he refers to Jayson Werth as “JW” and other players as “Dude” or “Junior,” among others. “Bryce, he called me Rusty. It’s no big deal.”

In the end, it was an amusing aside at best, and far less controversial than other things that have come out of Baker’s mouth of late.

Given that Baker knows a thing or two about the game of baseball, odds are good he’ll make sure to write “Harper” on the lineup card as many times as possible this season … even if he cannot for some reason get the superstar’s first name right just yet.

This article first appeared on Sportress of Blogitude and was syndicated with permission.

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