[ed. note - "Every Friday morning throughout this season, assuming that they will continue to have us, Federal Baseball will be writing a post over at MASNSports.com's Nationals Buzz, "... as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest," writers to their site. I substituted the word "writers" for "bloggers" there. All opinions expressed are our own... Our third or fourth (I lost count) post of the season follows... You can read the entire post HERE or through the link included below."]:
Late in the 2012 campaign, former Nationals manager Davey Johnson, who was tasked with helping to oversee the first two years of Bryce Harper's development as a major leaguer, was asked if there was anything he would like to see the then-19-year-old change?
He said, "No," initially.
"I like him just the way he is, to answer your question," Johnson told the reporter who asked. The all-out, hard-nosed, free-wheeling, super-aggressive approach Harper, the No. 1 overall pick in 2010, brought to all aspects of the game was just fine with his first big league skipper.
"A lot of people around the league tip their hat to that kind of all-in," Johnson said. On second thought, though, the veteran of 13 seasons in the majors thought of one thing he would like to see Harper stop doing.
"I hope he gets to softening his slam into first base," Johnson said, referring to Harper's tendency to stomp hard on first as he ran through the bag on every hit and groundout. "But other than that everything else is pretty good."
Johnson sympathized at times with the scrutiny Harper received as he made his way up and through his first seasons in the majors. Though Harper seemed unaffected by the attention he received, Johnson said it did get to him at times.
"He's an intelligent guy, but he's also very sensitive," Johnson said, "I mean, here, he ran on the scene. He's got commercials, and he's got a lot of people in his ear too much and I think he's handled it pretty good."
When a knee injury knocked him out for more than a month and there were constant reminders of running into outfield walls in Atlanta and Los Angeles, Johnson said there were a lot of voices offering advice and trying to tell Harper how to proceed once he was back on the field.
"I think through that whole period," Johnson said, "a lot of people were telling him he had to change his style and all this stuff to [lengthen] his career. He doesn't want to hear any of that. He just wants to play baseball. And his style of play is great."
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