41 games and 177 plate appearances into his major league career, 19-year-old 2010 no.1 overall pick Bryce Harper has a .303/.384/.548 line with nine doubles, four triples and seven home runs. Three of those doubles, three of the triples and five of the home runs have come in the last 21 games, over which the Nationals' outfielder has put up a .370/.446/.667 line at the plate. On the recent six-game road trip through Boston and Toronto, Harper was 10 for 21 (.476/.542/.857) with two doubles and two home runs. "Since he's been here he's had quality at bats," manager Davey Johnson told reporters after the second of three games in Toronto this week, "And he seems to be getting more comfortable." Harper's first 41 games haven't been without controversy, of course. There was the HBP from Cole Hamels. Harper stealing home in response. The time he busted his own eye open with a bat after he slammed it against a wall in frustration. And just this past week there was the whole "That's a clown question, bro," episode when a reporter going for a laugh created a potentially embarrassing encounter the rookie outfielder turned into an internet meme. Throughout it all, however, the Nationals' left-handed power bat has been nothing but professional.
Harper's a student of the game who's spoken often about the fact that he's been a New York Yankees fan his whole life and has frequently retold the old 3+4=7 story about how he chose his number to honor Yankee great Mickey Mantle. In an interview that will air tonight on the MLB Network's MLB Tonight before their broadcast of the first of three for the New York Yankees in D.C., the Nationals' outfielder talked to host Alanna Rizzo about having respect for the game and how he plays it:
Bryce Harper: "I want to play this game hard. I’m not going to disrespect it. I’m not going to disrespect anybody in that other clubhouse, or anybody on that other team. I’m not going to disrespect anybody in my clubhouse. I really want to get respect from everybody in the game, and I think the best way you can is playing hard. I think if you play hard every single day and let your game speak and not worry about anything around you, I think that’s when you get your respect."
Harper also talks about the Cole Hamels' beanball and the possibility of a team from the nation's capital making their first postseason appearance since 1933, when they played the New York Giants in the '33 World Series. Set your DVR or watch Harper's interview before you head over to Nationals Park...