Super agent Scott Boras came as close as anyone has to acknowledging that Bryce Harper was dealing with an injury of some sort (neck/shoulder) when he struggled throughout most of the 2016 campaign to produce the numbers he had in 2015.
“Harp had an issue that he played through with, that he battled with,” Boras explained in an MLB Network Radio interview this winter, “that was certainly uncomfortable but still allowed him to play.”
Harper, however, has steadfastly refused to acknowledge that he was playing with any limitations, whether from a desire to avoid appearing to use an injury as an excuse (the Man-up Approach), a refusal to share personal medical info (the HIPAA Approach), the bore them with cliches approach (aka the Crash Davis’ Interview Approach) or some other kind of approach we can’t think of a (not really) witty descriptor for right now.
Asked early in Spring Training if he knew why he struggled last season, Harper deftly avoided giving any info to reporters.
“I know exactly why,” Harper said.
“But that’s all last year and that’s what you go through and you build and you grow and you try to maintain and that’s what I’m going to try to do again this year.”
Harper is off to a good start. He’s currently in the midst of a five-game hitting streak, over which he’s 12 for 19 (.632/.696/1.632) with four doubles and five home runs, and on the year, he has a .407/.521/.864 line, six doubles, seven home runs and 14 walks in 73 plate appearances.
He went 2 for 4 with a double, two-run home run, walk and two runs scored last night in the Nationals’ 4-3 win in Citi Field, scoring the winning run, on a bases-loaded walk by Trea Turner that brought Harper in from third.
After the win, he spoke to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal on the field, and was once again asked about last year’s struggles.
His evasive response was as impressive as any of the numbers he’s put up early in the 2017 campaign.
Here’s the exchange:
Ken Rosenthal: “Dusty [Baker] told us before the game you worked really hard this offseason. One thing you’re doing really well is keeping your head still. Was that your main focus in trying to kind of revise what you did last year?”
Bryce Harper: “Not even thinking about it. Just trying to stay healthy and do everything I can to help this team win every single night. And when I can go out there and stay healthy and play ball, I’m a pretty dang good player.
“So, you know, I’m just trying to go out there and do everything I can for my team and try to win some ballgames and I’ve got a great guy hitting behind me as well in [Daniel Murphy], so that absolutely helps as well.”
Ken Rosenthal: “Last question, obvious question, were you not healthy last year?”
Bryce Harper: “Ah, you know, I think we played a great game tonight and did everything possible for us to win a game and got a big win down here in New York.
“We play them another eighteen times, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Crash would be proud, Bryce. Check out the full interview below...