Monday, February 28, 2011

Harper whiffs twice in debut

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Bryce Harper reacts to striking out in his first at-bat of the spring.
Read my full story with postgame quotes on CSNwashington.com

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Bryce Harper's first at-bat in a big-league spring training game didn't last long, and didn't produce the result the 18-year-old Washington Nationals phenom or the crowd at DigitalDomain Park wanted.

And his second at-bat wasn't much better.

Harper struck out twice in two plate appearances, swinging and missing at offerings from Mets left-hander Taylor Tankersley and right-hander Ryota Igarashi.

Inserted in the game in the fifth inning as a pinch-runner for designated hitter Matt Stairs, Harper got his feet wet on the bases, then had to sit in the dugout for a while before getting his chance with a bat.

He came up to bat in the top of the seventh inning and swung at all three pitches he saw from Tankersley, fouling one off and then missing mightily twice at breaking balls. The crowd of 3,461 at the Mets' spring training home, which cheered as last summer's No. 1 draft pick stepped up to bat, groaned on strike three.

Harper got a chance at redemption in the ninth when he faced Igarashi, but the result was the same. He took two called strikes and watched a fastball sail by for a ball before striking out swinging at an 86-mph offering from Igarashi.

Team officials weren't expecting too much from Harper in his first game against big-league competition, and they aren't too worried about evaluating him at this point. Slated to open the season at low-Class A Hagerstown, Harper is in major-league camp this spring simply to get better acquainted with professional baseball.

"Nothing but neutral or positive is going to come out of this," manager Jim Riggleman said before the game. "Just to get the butterflies out will be good for him."

Playing against older competition is nothing new for Harper, who got his GED at 16 and then earned national amateur player of the year honors last season as a 17-year-old at the College of Southern Nevada. Today, though, he faced a major-league reliever in Tankersley who appeared in 168 games with the Florida Marlins over the last five seasons and another in Igarashi, who appeared in 34 games last season.

24 comments:

NatsJack in Florida said...

Tankersly made Harper look like a high school kid trying to hit Major League pitching. oh.... wait a minute.... That's exactly what he is.

1 1/2 seasons starting in low "A" and progressing natuturally is the correct path.

Rat Man said...

Bet the closest Harper gets to Washington is as an intern for Harry Reid.

Edward said...

Mikey Mo certainly made his case for starting in left field and Nyjer made the case for Bernie starting in center!

Anonymous said...

"Tip."

"Whiff."

"Whiff."

Love ya! But see you in June 2012, son.

phil dunn said...

How smart was that?---having Harper face a left hander in his first at bat!

Theophilus said...

Saw the box score: Morse at 3B. The "emergency" infield plan is taking shape already. Good, maybe they can survive w/out Gonzalez or Cora.

Theophilus said...

P.D.: Harper entered as a PR in the top of the 5th inning; Tankersley entered in the top of the 7th inning. Facing the LH was not by design.

Tcostant said...

Scary article in the NY Post yesterday how Harper is just killing time until he can be a Yankee. Yuck!

http://www.nypost.com/f/print/sports/more_sports/phenom_harper_majestic_FCJzPLtcpn16hc8V5t76IO

Ryan Zimm said...

Adam Dunn he ain't.

6thandD said...

I love Michael Morse. He can play.

N. Cognito said...

Whoa! What's happening?
Harper's supposed to be good enough to start the season in DC. I know because I've read it numerous times on this blog.

Oh well. I'm sure he'll be in DC by June.

phil dunn said...

Forget the platooning. We need an outfield of Morse, Bernadina and Werth.

Rabbit said...

Today was the best thing that could have happened to Harper. Now low A is understandable. This gave him a good dose of major league pitching, and not the top tier of it either. He'll come along. Yes, this was good for him.

Joe Seamhead said...

The Nats turned 3 double plays. Does anybody know how they were turned? I'm excited about the prospect of improved "D"
As to Harper, it was an eye opener, eh?

Sec 3, My Sofa said...

People, people, people. It was one pitch.

OK, one game. Not much different.

joemktg said...

The story of the day was the tandem with swagger...Morse and Bernadina (not that other tandem).

Want nothing more but for those two to shine this Spring as they did today: if they do that, it changes the algorithm.

BinM said...

@Joe Seamhead:
The Nats turned one...
2nd inning - Castillo (NYM) grounds into a 6-4-3 (Desmond-Espinosa-Barker)DP; end inning.

But grounded into three...
3rd - Stairs (WSH) grounds into a 4-6-3 DP; end inning.
4th - Morgan (WSH) grounds into a 4-6-3 DP; end inning.
6th - Hairston (WSH) grounds into a 4-6-3 DP; end inning.

Doc said...

Harper's time will come, and soon.

In the meantime the star of the game was Morse. Maybe the star of this year's Nats will also be Morse--he has had a habit, over the past two years, of surprising us.

It looks like even Riggleman is finally catching up with what Morse can do.

Anonymous8 said...

Dunn went 0-2 with 2 strikeouts to equal Bryce Harper.

mjr said...

Didn't we lose the first dozen or so games of ST last year? I know they don't count but still... I'm walkin' with a bit of swagger now.

Doc said...

@ Anonymous 8: Thanks for the update on Dunn. Somethin' to weigh and watch this season: Dunn's stats, and the new guy at 1B, as well as how the Nats are gonna do without him.

A DC Wonk said...

> Dunn went 0-2 with 2 strikeouts to equal Bryce Harper.

But I bet Dunn swung less ;-)

I have another question, however:

What's with the "eye black" stuff?

Big Cat said...

Lets not get our panties all wadded up. The kid had good swings. Bottom line, both K's came on balls in the dirt. He was not overmatched. Nervous? Probably. Lets just let this play out some shall we

Anonymous said...

Geez, so the kid faced a guy where SEASONED lefties are hitting .223 against and strikes out AND then he faces a RH Japanese pitcher and strikes out as well. NO BIG DEAL! I still think he could start Opening Day 2011 and excel, he is just that naturally talented.

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