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Harper wowing Nats, opponents with hustle

Mar 6, 2012, 2:00 PM EDT

US Presswire photo
Bryce Harper legs out an infield single in the sixth inning last night.

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Four days into the exhibition season, Bryce Harper isn't wowing the Nationals with his power stroke. He's wowing them with his all-out hustle.

Teammates and coaches alike have marveled at how hard the 19-year-old plays the game and how he never seems to take his foot off the gas pedal.

Harper was up to it again last night against the Mets, beating out what looked like a routine grounder to third base in the top of the sixth.

"He plays hard," manager Davey Johnson said. "He's a throwback. He plays the game right."

Facing Mets left-hander Danny Herrera — owner of a big, swooping curveball — Harper decided to try an unconventional method for reaching base. Instead of taking a full hack at Herrera's offerings, heRead more ยป

  1. Sunderland - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    The Kid is growing on us all.

  2. A DC Wonk - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    Perhaps we found our new leadoff man!!(first?)

  3. SCNatsFan - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    I bet Collins was sitting in his dugout thinking boy I wish I had something like this in the minors to save my job.

  4. A DC Wonk - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    OK, so I wasn't first. ;-)(Congrats, Sunderland)Also, I meant to add a "smiley" to my previous post, as in:Perhaps we found our new leadoff man!! ;-)

  5. Bowdenball - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    You know what would be great for Mark and other writers, great for us and other fans, great for Bryce and other players, and great for the game? If Mark was allowed to embed a video of this play in this post.Why is MLB so stubbornly stuck in the past when it comes to control of content? How many NBA highlights have I enjoyed with a click of a button because they were embedded on a page with a story about the play or the game and how many times have I not bothered to check out a similar MLB highlight because of the extra hassle of finding it on the official web page?OK, my rant is over. This really just frustrates me as much as anything else about today's game, and this seemed like the perfect time to let it out.

  6. Anonymous - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    I've been holding back from getting too excited about Harper, but I have to say that I'm with Sunderland…the kid's growing on me! Keep hustling Harper and you'll get a warm welcome in DC soon.

  7. SCNatsFan - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    In an unrelated but humerous NL East note…http://www.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/entry/22297882/35104616… must be nice to ahve that kind of money to waste

  8. McKinley2 - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    This is really nothing new from Harper for those who weren't looking to denigrate him at every turn. He has always been a Pete Rose type student and practitioner of the game with a whole lot more power and a whole lot less years under his belt. His brashness always seemed to come from confidence (and youth), not arrogance. The Nats have two unbelievable talents in Strasburg and Harper with personalities that couldn't be more different. But what both possess is a burning desire and work ethic to succeed. It's just a shame that the perfect manager for them, Davey Johnson, will only be around for the opening acts of their show in The Show.

  9. MicheleS - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    SCNatsFan..Sweet Bejeeezus, that thing is even more hideous than i thought!

  10. MicheleS - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    Okay.. I am coming around on the kid, him running out that Ichiro hit made me smile. I hope the other kids see that and emulate (like Mr Rendon -who didn't run one out in an earlier game). Still don't want Bryce on the team until the end of April.

  11. NatsLady - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    I read on fangraphs that MLB is coming around and now will allow embedding of videos and a YouTube channel. Here is the link to the article.fangraphs article on social networking

  12. Sec 3, My Sofa - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    Repeating myself from the last post, but I would bet Harper saw something about Rottino, a tendency to be deliberate with his grip, maybe, that he could exploit. It might explain why he was feeling ichiro-ish in that at-bat, particularly. I know! He takes questions on Twitter–We could ask him.D'OH!

  13. Sunderland - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    And Michele, for me it's not the hustle, not the running out the hit. It's that he put the Ichiro swing on the ball because he felt it was a good way to approach the crafty, soft throwing lefty with the big curve. That's just plain smart baseball, that most guys don't have the talent and confidence to attempt. That's a result of study, practice and confidence.That's what impresses me.

  14. SCNatsFan - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    MIcheleS, I think it would make me not want to hit a home run. Can you imagine what it looks like when it 'goes off'?

  15. Sec 3, My Sofa - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    Sunderland said…What he said. And if my speculation is right, make mine a double.

  16. joemktg - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    SCNatsFan: perhaps the artist was inspired by Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. "Lucy in the sky with diamonds…"

  17. Anonymous - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    Hearing Johnson say "he plays the right way" does more for me than BP bombs. If that's true, this could be a great ride. Let's hope.

  18. JaneB - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    I'm impressed, along with you all, by Harper's capacity to improvise a hitting style to get a hit. And I'm impressed by Sofa's "Ichiro-ish" improvisation of "hitterish" …which, plainly, Bryce has been feeling these last few days.Mark, this is your last day down there, right? We sure are glad you've been there, writing these game threads.

  19. blog.LetTeddyWin - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    This is what I tell everybody about the Harper I saw in Viera last year. Non-stop hustle and aggressiveness. Heck, even when he's not in the game, the guy is so jacked up he can't sit down. He's in the dugout squeezing and spinning a ball, swinging a bat, jumping out of his skin to get in the game. Reminds me of Michael Jordan that way. Always leaning forward, never leaning back. Combine that with his body, talent, and training, and it's a pretty exciting thing. Really excited to see how this guy affects the whole Nats lineup (but please AFTER the Super 2 date is passed in May).

  20. Anonymous - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    Best 25 go North!!dfh21

  21. LoveDaNats - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    My 18 year old daughter was watching the game with me yesterday when Bryce came up to bat. When I told her he was 19 and could be in college with her, she was incredulous. She said he looked at least 25 and there were no freshmen boys on campus who looked like him. You can tell he is working hard to make this club. It would be a shame to have him earn it and be kept out till April because of club control. Someone once mentioned signing him to an extension now and letting him play. Is that even feasible OR a good idea?

  22. Anonymous - Mar 6, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    Nats don't want to take Harper North right off the bat because they lose a year of control. Everyone knows that. Can they renogiate his contract to add a year before they break from Spring Training? If it's possible then maybe Harper will sign it because he wants to play right away.DEM

  23. MicheleS - Mar 6, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    Agent = Boras = No way he signs anything.

  24. Sec 3, My Sofa - Mar 6, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    There is no way, none, mathematical zero chance, Scott Boras OR Bryce Harper agree to such an extension. There's no reason for them to do so.

  25. Natonian Institute - Mar 6, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    I watched the video of his "Ichiro" hit about ten times on the Nats site before I read this story from Mark. I'm going to watch it a few more times after I post this note.What Harper did on that swing was incredible. He COMPLETELY changed his swing to hit the ball to the left side and give himself a chance to get on base. This is SO important because he's on a team that tends to watch so many strikes, and eventually go down looking.Think for a minute of big-time left-handed power hitters, and how many give up 40 hits a year because they simply can't punch the ball to the left side and keep defenses honest. They see shifts or near-shifts all season long and cannot do a THING about it.I was also shocked. I mean, and I've been careful no to put this kid in the HOF when he's got a sub-.300 average in the minors, I was shocked at how close his swing was to Ichiro's. The way Ichiro gets his hips in front of his hands–many great Asian players do this–is completely different than Harper's usual/beautiful swing. But it is clear he has studied Ichiro very closely and spent hundreds of hours learning his swing.He also used the Ichiro release at the end of his swing, giving him a one-stride advantage in getting to first, which was precisely the margin that made him beat the throw.Wow. That was really something special. Amazing.

  26. Section 222 - Mar 6, 2012 at 3:22 PM

    Really excited to see how this guy affects the whole Nats lineup (but please AFTER the Super 2 date is passed in May).Just to clarify, the Super 2 date is sometime in mid to late June under the new CBA. If Harper is a Super 2, he can go to arbitration a year early, but is still under team control. The more important date is April 27 (per Mark's Spring Storyline piece on Feb. 17). That's the date that Harper could arrive in DC and still not become a free agent until after the 2018 season. As much as I'd love to see his hustle and grit on Opening Day this year, I'd much rather see what kind of power he has in his prime in 2018 — at Nats Park rather than on Baseball Tonight.

  27. natsfan1a - Mar 6, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    Thanks for the link, sc. It *is* quite hideous, even without the leaping marlin which is apparently about to be set in place ("Leaping marlins, that thing is ugly!") Re. the quote below, taken from the piece, my vote would be have a fan lottery. The winner gets to push the button that will cause the sculpture to implode. Maybe let the left-handed hitters take a few hacks at it first, as with the fax machine in Office Space. :-)

  28. DL in VA - Mar 6, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    He has always been a Pete Rose type student"Exactly my thoughts. When the announcer said, look at Ichiro Harper, I thought "Look at Charlie Hustle over there." Man would I love to see 4,257.MicheleS said…Agent = Boras = No way he signs anything.Well fine then. One less year of guarantees for Harper. Down in Tampa Bay, they're signing players to extensions after 3 innings of work. And the players are eating it up, even though they KNOW they could be worth a lot more over that time, because as Evan Longoria said, "don't pass on your first fortune."

  29. natsfan1a - Mar 6, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    Dang, I lost my quote.If the home run celebration sculpture does pose an issue, it will be very interesting to see what the Marlins choose to do with it. At that size, it can't be easy to move, and it reportedly cost over $2 million to construct.

  30. NatsLady - Mar 6, 2012 at 3:31 PM

    When you were 19 how long did 21 days seem? Never say never, not even for Boras.

  31. natsfan1a - Mar 6, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    And back on topic, I'm with those who appreciate the heady approach even more than long balls.I also second JaneB's thanks to Mark (and CSN) for his ST coverage to date.

  32. Section 222 - Mar 6, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    Bowdenball et al — Here's the link to highlights of Harper's impressive day yesterday, including the Ichiro single.

  33. Feel Wood - Mar 6, 2012 at 3:40 PM

    Chance of Rizzo bringing Harper up before those 21 days pass? ZERO.Chance of Boras allowing Harper to sign an extension before those 21 days pass? LESS THAN ZERO.Got it?

  34. Kirbs - Mar 6, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    I kind of shuttered when I saw the ichiro swing, but that was quickly gone when I saw the kid get down the line!

  35. NatsRUs - Mar 6, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    It is unbelievable that he could improv something like that. I've never seen anyone do anything like it before.

  36. Tcostant - Mar 6, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    I like the idea of giving him 3 to 4 weeks at AAA to push his FA clock out. If he plays well, you bring him us before the clock strikes May. If he struggles, you reaccess after the June Super 2 date. Just being smart. I understand Davey wants him now, but an extra year when he his a 5 year pro is HUGE. Enough said…

  37. Manassas Nats Fan - Mar 6, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    Because the team is on the west coast when the minor league 21 games are up, I would bring him for his first game May 1st at home. (I am doing that from memory from looking this up before).

  38. Steve M. - Mar 6, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    Bowdenball said… You know what would be great for Mark and other writers, great for us and other fans, great for Bryce and other players, and great for the game? If Mark was allowed to embed a video of this play in this post.Why is MLB so stubbornly stuck in the past when it comes to control of content? How many NBA highlights have I enjoyed with a click of a button because they were embedded on a page with a story about the play or the game and how many times have I not bothered to check out a similar MLB highlight because of the extra hassle of finding it on the official web page?OK, my rant is over. This really just frustrates me as much as anything else about today's game, and this seemed like the perfect time to let it out. March 06, 2012 9:09 AMThere is luckily people shooting their own video that post on YouTube and Vimeo.If you search for Bryce Harper Spring Training and sort by date you will see a bunch of nice videos.NatsEnquirer did a nice screengrab: http://www.natsenquirer.com/2012/03/when-bryce-harper-tried-to-ichiro-it.htmlHere's video of Bryce's bunt in the Georgetown game:http://www.natsenquirer.com/2012/03/video-bryce-harper-failed-bunt-attempt-georgetown-nationals.html

  39. Anonymous - Mar 6, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    I don't think that there's a zero chance Bryce makes the club out of ST. I think that it's certainly a serious long shot, but not beyond possibility. There are reasons to have him on the big club (if they think that he's ready and if they think the club can contend, which is what Davey is saying, then it would be arguably a bad play to have this kind of potential impact guy not on the club as much as possible to get to the playoffs for the first time in a forever); and, unless the rules have changed in the new CBA — not sure, they can get the days for Harper in the minors later this season if he struggles, and if the club's out of it and if they really feel the need to grab ahold of Harper's 2018 control in exchange for the best record they can get in 2012. It's not a slam dunk that he starts in the minors. We'll see.dfh21

  40. Brian Benson - Mar 6, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    Thanks for the Fangraphs update Nat's Lady I thought my daughter was the only female who read Fangraphs…

  41. Anonymous - Mar 6, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    I don't want to see him before May to push the FA clock back, but regarding the Super 2 status – does that even matter in his case with a (IIRC) 5-year Major League deal? If anyone knows, how does arbitration apply to Harper specifically?

  42. RPrecupjr - Mar 6, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    Since I was reading the comments from yesterday's gamer: Sec 3, My Sofa said… Did I hear that right? Jamie Moyer, who is 49 in human years, is in camp looking for a job playing baseball?Yes, you heard right, he's in camp with the Rockies. I made mention of this when Livo signed with the Astros, because we now have the possibility of the first 9-inning, 7-hour game, given their repsective velocities.Can you associate the word "velocity" with pitches less than 70 mph? Can I get a ruling?

  43. Feel Wood - Mar 6, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    unless the rules have changed in the new CBA — not sure, they can get the days for Harper in the minors later this season if he struggles, and if the club's out of it and if they really feel the need to grab ahold of Harper's 2018 control in exchange for the best record they can get in 2012. It's not a slam dunk that he starts in the minors. We'll see.It is true that they could send him down for 21 days or more later in the season and still meet the requirement for keeping his service time less than one full year. However, this is unlikely to be an option, for two reasons. First, the media outcry if Bryce Harper is sent down after making the team on Opening Day would be off the charts. His performance would have to be at 2011 Adam Dunn level for them to do that. If he's merely in a slump, they won't send him down.Second, if he's on the team until September and then the team is eliminated from the race, they can't send him down because minor league seasons are over and there's no other place for him than the major league roster.From Rizzo's perspective, he looks worse if he blows that last year of Harper's FA and the Nats don't make the playoffs than he does if he keeps Harper down for 21 days and they don't make the playoffs. If he blows that last year of Harper's FA, the only way he looks good is if the planets align and the Nats win big. It's a slam dunk that Rizzo will not roll the dice on that.

  44. Steve M. - Mar 6, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    DL in VA said… He has always been a Pete Rose type student"Exactly my thoughts. When the announcer said, look at Ichiro Harper, I thought "Look at Charlie Hustle over there." Man would I love to see 4,257.MicheleS said…Agent = Boras = No way he signs anything.Well fine then. One less year of guarantees for Harper. Down in Tampa Bay, they're signing players to extensions after 3 innings of work. And the players are eating it up, even though they KNOW they could be worth a lot more over that time, because as Evan Longoria said, "don't pass on your first fortune." March 06, 2012 10:28 AM I agree with MicheleS. I don't see any contract concessions with him or anything contract related happening. Boras has big plans for this kid that will make ARod's numbers look small plus this kid is going to be marketable if he can "walk the walk". We all know Bryce does a lot of talking and actions speak louder than words. Good start so far!Bryce Harper has Rookie of the Year on his mind. He also has a 2 man video crew based out of DC following him around everyday during Spring Training and into the forseeable future. The insiders word is the video crew is being paid by Boras—-can't confirm.The Nationals may have no interest in exploiting this kid for profit but I have heard there are national ad exec's waiting to see if this will be the next great athlete "pitch man". He has Under Armour, Evoshield, MarucciBats, MusclePharm that he has paid affiliations with right now and recently did some work for Eastbay.While Strasburg just signed a deal with Toyota and Ryan Zimmerman is doing Thompson Window videos, Bryce Harper may eclipse them all in Madison Avenue appeal.

  45. Anonymous - Mar 6, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    werth should fill in as the caveman with zimmerman sometime in the geico commercials. they should have werth flying around doing amazing things that caveman has never been able to do before. stealing bases, getting ladies, etc.

  46. Cease the Opportunity - Mar 6, 2012 at 5:00 PM

    If I'm Rizzo I'd run the 1 year extension pass the kid. Of course Borax advises against it, but the last time I checked Harper pays the agent. You never know…

  47. Anonymous - Mar 6, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    If I am Rizzo, I might be thinking about this differently (not to say he is, but playing Devil's advocate a bit here). 2018 for Bryce Harper is a year that the club is going to try to buy-out anyway, presuming he plays to something close to expectation. It's likely to be just a matter of bargaining leverage for how much that year is going to cost the club down the line (a [potential arb year at the end of a string or a potential FA year — not huge difference really). If Bryce Harper is a difference maker and can help the club get to the post season, be in the ROY discussion, then they should let the kid play as soon as he's ready, service clock be damned. If the Nats miss the playoffs by one game while Harper was hitting .400 in Cuse for a month in which they struggle to score runs let's say, then the club is going to look cheap and stupid come the fall, forget about 2018's playoff chances being up in the air. We'll see.dfh21

  48. Bowdenball - Mar 6, 2012 at 5:15 PM

    Thanks to those that posted links, but that wasn't my point. My point is that I don't know why MLB is stuck in the stone age on this stuff. The NBA gets it: they know that promoting the sport and being fan-friendly is more important than maintaining exclusive control over content. I believe the NHL does as well, and most professional soccer leagues. I really wish MLB would come around. This seemed like a perfect case study: we've got a young potentially exciting superstar, the kind of guy who might eventually drive ticket sales and ratings. It's an exciting example of what he can do, and also an example of him playing the game "the right way." Why would you want to reduce the ability of fans to see this footage simply to get a few extra online advertising dollars by maintaining exclusive control over content? Makes no sense.

  49. Bowdenball - Mar 6, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    "Ability" was a poor choice of words in that post. "Ease" would have been a better choice. Anyone can find it if they want, but MLB should want to make it easy. One click, not googling and cutting and pasting.

  50. Sec 3, My Sofa - Mar 6, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    Marlins, Schmarlins. They're irrelevant. Bryce Harper is not normal anything. Besides, he's already got his first two fortunes.What's his market value going to be in 2018? Nobody knows; it's a known unknowable unknown. But you can be sure Boras means to find out. I don't believe either of them is worried about Harper not setting the baseball world on fire–they're very confident, so for them, the bigger risk is underestimating his upside.

  51. Sec 3, My Sofa - Mar 6, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    I kind of shuttered when I saw the ichiro swingThanks, Kirbs, you just replaced the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" earworm I got from the Marlin's homer-strosity with some Teresa Brewer, "Shutters and Boards." Audie Murphy wrote that, BTW. Aren't you glad you asked.

  52. FS - Mar 6, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    The Kid just earned a little bit more respect in my book for referencing to Ichiro.

  53. Anonymous - Mar 6, 2012 at 8:22 PM

    I'm amazed at the people on this site that give Harper credit for hustling. Are you kidding? If you can't hustle all out at 19 what's the point. Baseball is a game in which, played correctly, hustle is the expectation. There are only a few minutes of every game when the opportunity to run full out is presented. A decent ballplayer relishes and takes advantage of those few oppotunities. And by the way, Ichiro did not invent that style of hitting. Take a look at films of Babe Ruth and you'll see the same moving in the batter's box. But the fact that folks praise a player for a basic tenet of the game shows how far from the spirit of the game today's players have fallen.

  54. Rabbit - Mar 6, 2012 at 8:52 PM

    And then there's Desmond.

  55. Sec 3, My Sofa - Mar 6, 2012 at 11:17 PM

    Nothing wrong with praising someone for doing what they are supposed to do in the first place. Reward behavior you want to encourage, and punish behavior you want to discourage.

  56. Anonymous - Mar 7, 2012 at 12:00 AM

    Sounds like kindergarten…

  57. Anonymous - Mar 7, 2012 at 2:09 AM

    If anybody should know from sounding like kindergarten, it's me.

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