Thursday, February 14, 2013

Harper driven to reach new heights

USA Today Sports Images
Bryce Harper bulked up to 230 pounds over the winter.
VIERA, Fla. -- Bryce Harper's primary goal this season, the 20-year-old made clear, is team-related.

"World Series," he said. "That's the biggest thing on my mind."

Not that the Nationals' All-Star outfielder hasn't set some personal goals for himself as well. He just prefers not to share those with the world.

"I have things in my head, goals in my head," he said. "But I'm not ready to share those, because people are probably going to think I'm crazy."

Given the high bar Harper has always set for himself -- this is, after all, the same guy who graduated high school at 16, was drafted No. 1 in the country at 17 and won NL Rookie of the Year at 19 -- there's no telling just what he believes he's capable of doing in his second big-league season.

Thirty homers? Forty? 100 RBI? 40 stolen bases? NL MVP? Nothing seems out of the realm of possibility for one of the most-gifted and most-driven ballplayers in generations.

He's no longer the wide-eyed teenager in a clubhouse full of grown men, trying his best not to create a scene. His locker no longer sits among the minor-league invitees and bench players. He's positioned right between a couple of lineup regulars, Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond.

And physically ... well, Harper doesn't just look like he belongs in a big-league clubhouse. He looks like he belongs in an NFL locker room, having bulked up over the winter to 230 pounds to fill out his 6-foot, 3-inch frame.

"I lift as hard as I can, get as big as I can in spring training," he said. "Because I know I'm going to lose a lot of weight, because I'm a guy who comes in and loses a lot of weight quick. I'm about 230 right now, and I'll probably drop to 220 before spring training is over and be at a good playing weight myself."

Harper certainly has the physical tools to become an elite power hitter, and manager Davey Johnson is thinking about bumping him down a spot in the Nationals' lineup and having him hit third (behind Denard Span and Jayson Werth, ahead of Ryan Zimmerman and LaRoche).

Harper's response to that possibility?

"I hope not," he said. "I like the 2-spot. I think it's a good spot for me, especially with Denard leading off and Zim behind me. But wherever he wants to put me, that's fine. Davey's a great manager. He's got a great mind."

Like many of his teammates, Harper reported early to spring training, one day before position players are required to arrive. He participated in a brief workout this morning, though that had to be cut short because of rain.

He'll draw plenty of attention this spring, just as he did the previous two springs, though not because of the novelty factor. This time, he's being watched because he's becoming one of the best players in the game and starring for a team with aspirations as lofty as his own.

"I want perfection out of myself, and I think everybody wants perfection out of our team," Harper said. "We're going to come out here and play our game and hopefully get deeper than we did last year. And hopefully have a shot at having a parade at the end."

31 comments:

NatsNut said...

gulp

"...having bulked up over the winter to 230 pounds to fill out his 6-foot, 3-inch frame."

SonnyG10 said...

This guy is a real treat for us fans. I saw that video of him working out in the gym and I can just imagine how hard he is going at it. He truly is driven.

Rabbit34 said...

Yep, best player in baseball.

MicheleS said...

Twitter jail.. you can only send out 1000 tweets per day. And they allocate that out. Once you hit a number, they shut your down for a couple of hours

Candide said...

how do you send 1000 tweets in one day? I don't think I even BLINK a thousand times in one day.

MicheleS said...

Candide.. retweets count too.

Candide said...

But yikes, MicheleS - assuming you're awake 16 hours a day, that works out to more than one tweet every MINUTE. SMH...

Scooter said...

One thousand?

Land sakes alive, even Joe Maddon wouldn't want a piece of you, and he's a weird wuss.

natsfan1a said...

All I can say is that your employers must be very understanding. ;-)

Candide said...

Well, maybe she WORKS for twitter.com...

natsfan1a said...

I suppose the limit would be an anti-spamming measure.

Anyhoo, and on topic, loved Bryce's answer to a question at Nats fest. First they referenced a Halloween costume of his, then they asked what he was going to do next October. His answer was something like, having a big, city-wide parade. Awesome, kid.

natsfan1a said...

Could be, Candide. :-)

MicheleS said...

Copy and paste boys...

natsfan1a said...

Boz is in Viera and pouring that delightful red beverage. Would you care for a glass?

(Rodin sculptures. Oh, my stars.)

Gonat said...

I think if Bryce is batting 3rd behind D-Span & JWerth and before RZim he gives himself a shot at 100 RBIs and 100 Runs Scored. Let's be real, you knock in 100 RBIs and you are in the MVP discussion, you score 100 Runs with 70 RBIs and you get some attaboys.

baseballswami said...

A Nats Classic!! From 2012!!! Just made my night.

natsfan1a said...

First Viera wildlife sighting. It's not a raccoon in the press box but it will have to do for now. :-)

baseballswami said...

The fish story-- some kind of parable about what we will do to the Marlins this season?? A dead fish that Desi just throws out?

Candide said...

1a, regarding the photos in Boz's article, I noticed something.

It looks like Stras isn't doing the "inverted W" thing, at least in all the photos of him throwing.

Storen, OTOH, in the one photo he's throwing in, is definitely doing the "inverted W."

I realize it's just an instant frozen in time, and the photos can be deceiving. Any of our NJ people down there know anything?

NatsJack in Florida said...

I am not an "inverted W" believer so I didn't notice anything. The only noticeable invered W guy I ever notice is Stammen.

baseballswami said...

Anyone watching the classic- Lombo's considerable range, arm and defensive skills on display for all of the Lombo naysayers.

Gonat said...

baseballswami, yah, I don't get it. Lombo just lacks the arm but let's be real, there isn't a 2nd baseman in either league with an arm like Danny.

Mr. Doggett said...

I get gooey, warm feelings when I hear them talk about the lineup. Such a great 1-4.

NatsNut said...

Oh, well that's different.

;)

MicheleS said...
Candide.. retweets count too.

BigCat said...

Has my boy Eckstein arrived yet? Somebody said they saw him sunning by the pool and he had his clipboard with him.

Doc said...

I think that Eck takes his clipboard with him to bed....so all the Nats can get a restful night of sleep.

Baseball Prospectus Depth Charts have the Nats winning the NL East, but with only 88 games.

That's coookoo. The Yanks win their division with 92 games. Now that's really cooookoooo!

They must smoke funny looking cigarettes and drink a lot of homebrew over in Prospectus Land!

Laddie Blah Blah said...

Harp is ready to bat 3rd, behind Span and Werth, and ahead of Ryan. That gives the team the best chance to score runs early in the game. Last year they had a terrible time scoring early when Davey decided to lead off with Danny and Desi, and Ryan usually came up with 2 out and none on, and had seen, maybe, 4 or 5 pitches, total, after those 2 free swingers made out.

Desi did not start to produce until he was moved down in the order, and Danny improved, too.

Harp hit 22 last year, and really picked up the power stroke the last 6 weeks of the season, which is when he earned ROY honors. I think he will be disappointed if he is not a 30-30 guy this year, with 100+ RBIs, and well over 100 runs scored. Remember, he hit 22 last year even though he missed the first month, and went into a long mid-summer slump before those last 6 weeks.

He's ready to break out. If they stay healthy, he and Ryan will be the most productive 3-4 hitters in the league, with Span and Werth scoring ahead of them, jacking up both of Harp's and Ryan's RBI numbers.

The Nats staff will have a lot more run support this year than last, and the new batting order will be a major reason why.

Tony said...

"baseballswami said...

Anyone watching the classic- Lombo's considerable range, arm and defensive skills on display for all of the Lombo naysayers."

Nope. I was watching MLB Network, where they spent about ten minutes talking about how great the Desmond-Espinosa DP combo is. Lombo's name never came up.

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natsfan1a said...

OMG, thats teh awesomezzz!1 I *was* going to post on this topic but instead I'm going to go investigate this incredible job offer right now!!1 [sarcasm off]

Tcostant said...

I always wonder why they never call the "inverted W" just a plain "M"?

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