Mike Rizzo spent the majority of his time on the MLB Network Radio show Power Alley this morning discussing the scouting he did on newly-elected Hall of Famer Frank Thomas when the current Washington Nationals' GM was a scout for the Chicago White Sox, (check out a scouting report from 1988 HERE), but he did touch on a few Nats-related topics at the end of the interview.
After he talked about seeing a young Frank Thomas and convincing the White Sox to draft him, hosts Jim Duquette and Mike Ferrin were interested in hearing what the GM and President of Baseball Operations in D.C. thought of the work 2010 no.1 overall pick Bryce Harper was doing to bulk up and prepare himself for the 2014 campaign.
Asked about any similarities between Harper and Thomas as players, the Nationals' General Manager explained that they both played with a bit of a chip on their shoulders.
AUDIO: Mike Rizzo, Nats GM on Bryce Harper/Frank Thomas comps, and Bryce's off-season workout & Health status - http://t.co/7PgOVcDntq— MLB Network Radio (@MLBNetworkRadio) January 9, 2014
"I do think they both play with an edge, yes," Rizzo said. "I do see that similarity. Frank had a little chip on his shoulder because of a few things. I think he felt slighted that he didn't make the USA team and those type of things and I think that was just his way of fueling his competitive fire. Harp, as you know, is probably the most-unique amateur player that we've ever had. He and ['09 no.1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg] maybe are the two most known, seen, hyped amateur players going into the draft, at least that I've been around. And so they had to deal with things in their own way. I think Harp kind of internalizes the edge that he has and as he's gotten older and more mature I think he's really handled it much, more more professionally.
"@ufc: trains like a champ in the offseason. Look forward to seeing you hit a HR w/ the belt on, Bryce! @MLB pic.twitter.com/SYRn7LTFXf"— Bryce Harper (@Bharper3407) January 7, 2014
"But there's an inner fire in Bryce Harper that is really second-to-none," Rizzo explained. "This guy wants to be as good as anybody, better than everybody and be the guy to carry a club.
"His offseason workout regiment... He's one of those in the ring type of -- in the octagon-type of fighting fans, and he's a guy that works out extremely hard. But we have our strength and conditioning guy that visits our players several times throughout the season and don't forget Harp is really doing a lot of work because he had the knee surgery. He's coming back from that. Progressing nicely, should be and will be ready for Spring Training. 100%.
"But he likes to be strong coming into camp because he's one of those guys who may come in at his optimal weight, but will lose weight as Spring Training and the season wear him down. He will lose some weight, so we've got no problem where he's at. He looks great. I've seen pictures of him and got reports from out strength and conditioning coach and our trainers who have visited him and he looks great. He sounds great. I've traded texts with him. He called me just yesterday and he sounds great, ready to go, and I think he's going to be pain-free for the first time since he hit the wall last year and we're looking for bigger and better things from Harp and hopefully he can be one of the guys that really takes a step forward this year and gives us a chance to win as many games as we can."
The Nationals' GM was also asked this morning about much-discussed potential extensions for shortstop Ian Desmond and right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, though he didn't offer much in the way of details as usual.
"We have had discussions with both of those guys," Rizzo said, "and I'll keep the results and discussions to myself, but these are guys that are extremely talented players that are homegrown by us and guys that we feel are part of the furniture here and a huge part of the franchise and of course you'd like to keep all the extremely good players that you can and we're working at doing that."
• Here's what Ian Desmond had to say about ongoing extension discussions when he talked to nationals.com's Bill Ladson recently:
#Desmond coming off impressive season, not focused on contract status http://t.co/hILTak7Vs3 #Nationals #Nats #MLB— William Ladson (@washingnats) January 8, 2014
Before the MLB Network Radio interview was over, the Nats' GM was asked about the picture making the rounds on the internet of Adam LaRoche with a mountain lion draped over his shoulders.
"I've never been hunting in my life so I don't know what he sees in it and what they get out of it," Rizzo said. "But it was an impressive mountain lion and I like to think he shot the mountain lion because the mountain lion was going to attack him. That's how I'm playing it in my mind."
Rochey got a big cat with his bow! @mathewsinc @realtreeoutdoors @uahunt @wildgameinnovations http://t.co/3PDhL5an8s— Buck Commander (@Buck_Commander) January 8, 2014
"I hope Rochey is lifting more than mountain lions this offseason," Rizzo joked.
• AUDIO: Listen to Mike Rizzo on the MLB Network Radio show Power Alley:
AUDIO: Mike Rizzo, Nats GM, on possible extensions for J.Zimmermann & Desmond, and Adam LaRoche's Mountain Lion - http://t.co/4Kr882XNG9— MLB Network Radio (@MLBNetworkRadio) January 9, 2014
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