Kilgore: Learning From Bryce Harper's First Two Games

If the Washington Nationals had their druthers, Ryan Zimmerman would be healthy, Michael Morse would be healthy, and Bryce Harper would be down in triple-A, getting valuable seasoning and beating up on dudes. Pitchers, mainly, and not with his fists. But Zimmerman's hurt, and Morse's hurt, so Harper's in the show ahead of schedule. He's two games in, and he has two hits.

In the Washington Post, Adam Kilgore writes about Harper, and Harper's first two games. Here's the intro:

LOS ANGELES - After two major league games, this is what we know about Bryce Harper: He can smash line drives off fences, throw laser beams from the outfield, drive in clutch runs, crash into walls to steal doubles, face the press and boos without nerves and, if it is a day game, neatly smear about a quart of eye black on each cheek.

Sounds about right. Sounds pretty Bryce Harper-y. Now skipping way ahead, here's my favorite part:

The sellout [Los Angeles Dodgers] crowd booed him at each at-bat, and afterward he smiled about it. At least the players in the other dugout had not heckled him, a common occurrence when he began his career last season at Class A Hagerstown.

Bryce Harper got booed in Dodger Stadium when he walked up for his first-ever major-league plate appearance. He got booed! Before he had done anything! But at least he didn't get heckled by the other team, too. Bryce Harper's got himself a reputation, and even though he's only 19 and even though he could grow more humble and mature, this reputation's going to be tough to shed, if he ever wants to shed it. First impressions and everything. Bryce Harper was in the low minors. He was getting heckled by the other teams.

And let's close with the Nationals' previous super-prospect talking about the Nationals' current super-prospect:

"Hype's only going to be in the way if you care about it," Strasburg said. "He knew what he was getting into. It's L.A. He knew he was going to get booed and stuff. It comes with the territory of being one of the best prospects ever. He has to go out there and keep playing the game the way he knows how."

Given Stephen Strasburg's performance record, it's safe to say he did a good job of handling the hype and the attention. Harper looks like he's ticketed for a return to the minors in time, but if he also does a good job of handling the hype and the attention and, most importantly, performs, the Nationals could be left with little choice but to keep an outstanding 19-year-old in the clubhouse.

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