Nothing Bryce Harper does surprises his manager. In his first Opening Day start, Harper became, according a Washington Post report, the youngest player to hit two home runs in his team's first game of the season. "What can you say about Harp," Johnson joked after the season opener, "I guess he liked the three-hole."
The Washington Nationals' 20-year-old outfielder went 2 for 4 with two home runs in the Nats' 2-0 win over Ricky Nolasco and the Miami Marlins Monday afternoon in Nationals Park. Over his last 10 major league games, Harper's now 17 for 37 with three doubles, a triple and five home runs. Coming into this afternoon's game, the 2010 no.1 overall pick was 4 for 15 against the veteran right-hander. He's now 6 for 19 with two home runs against Nolasco.
"I knew way before the game he wasn't going to be fazed by anything," Davey Johnson said of his preternaturally mature left fielder. "They all, but he especially, he's totally committed to [having] a good year. I mean, he had a phenomenal Spring, the best Spring I've ever seen anybody have and continuing on."
Harper was 32 for 67 with five doubles and three home runs in 25 Grapefruit League games. "If you watched them pitch to him in Spring [Training], they really didn't know what to throw him," Johnson said. Harper was hitting everything this Spring after deciding to turn down an invitation to play in the World Baseball Classic so he could concentrate on preparing for the 2013 campaign.
"He's just got a great stroke and a great approach," Davey Johnson told reporters after the second-year major league extended his hit streak to 10 games with a home run in his first at bat then followed that up with another blast off Nolasco the second time up hitting a curve out the first time and a slider the second.
"He's a smart hitter," the Nats' skipper said, "I'm sure he looked at the films and had a pretty good idea how [Nolasco] likes to set up his fastball and how he likes to pitch. He was talking about veteran pitchers last year about what they do in situations [with] men on base, what they start hitters off with. He's not just a good talent, he pays attention."
Speaking of paying attention... In Harper's third at bat he tried to bunt at one point against a pitcher he'd taken deep twice already and ended up flying out to left field. "Nothing he does fazes me," Davey Johnson said after the game, "And they weren't playing him in for the bunt so it was probably a pretty good play."
All that power and brains too...