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Bryce Harper plays slow pitch softball near Washington Monument (Video)

19-year-old Washington Nationals phenom Bryce Harper decided to get in on a softball game in Washington, D.C. while sightseeing on a day off Monday.

“I hadn’t seen the Lincoln Memorial before so I wanted to go over there and check that out,” Harper said before his game with the Nats on Tuesday. “I was just walking through and they asked me if I’d take a few hacks.”

Harper politely declined at first, but then he accepted the invitation.

“I was trying to interact with the community, the fans a little bit. I like doing that kind of stuff,” Harper said.

According to the DC Sports Bog, the softball game was between the World Wildlife Fund Fighting Pandas and the Alliance to Save Energy Killer Watts. They tell a slightly different story from Harper, saying that he offered to jump in.

“We didn’t ask him to play; he just wanted to jump in,” Fighting Pandas center fielder Nick Conger told DC Sports Bog. “He couldn’t help himself.”

Harper took a few cuts, including one where he shockingly whiffed. He did get his swing together and launched a bomb later in the at-bat. What’s surprising is that he’s not the first star MLB player to do something like this. Remember when this guy did it?

Thanks to Nats Enquirer via Deadspin for the video

Bryce Harper’s first hit ruined by fans who mooned the camera

Bryce Harper may have the ball from his first career hit, but the video clip shown on TV is ruined. A couple of kids at Dodger Stadium for the Nats-Dodgers game on Saturday night spoiled Harper’s first hit by mooning the center field camera. Yup, two rascals with a well thought out plan dropped trou as the 3-2 pitch was coming from Chad Billingsley. Harper blasted the pitch for a double off the base of the wall in center, and proceeded to knock off his helmet between first and second to show off his brilliant haircut to the world.

Dodgers fans were all over Harper all night. Not only did these juniors moon during his at-bat, but the fans booed him when he came to bat, and he heard it from the fans in the left field pavilion most of the game.

No word if Harper responded by blowing the kids a kiss.

Forearm bash to Deadspin

Bryce Harper called up to majors by Nats

Bryce Harper is coming to the show. The Nationals announced on Friday that heavily-hyped prospect is being called up to the majors to replace Ryan Zimmerman who is going on the disabled list with an injured shoulder.

Harper is only 19 years old and has less than 500 career minor league at-bats, but the former No. 1 overall pick may get his crack at big league pitching on Saturday. The Nats are facing the Dodgers in Los Angeles and the pitchers will be Stephen Strasburg and Chad Billingsley.

The move is surprising for two reasons. One, Harper was only batting .250 with one home run and three RBIs in Triple-A, so they’re moving him up even though he’s not hitting the ball too well. Two, they’re calling him up in April rather than June, meaning his major league service time clock will begin ticking earlier and he could eventually earn more money through arbitration as a “Super Two” player.

It looks like the Nats, who lead the National League with a 14-5 record, are not messing around. I guess manager Davey Johnson is getting his wish.

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Bryce Harper sent to minors after striking out four times, will play center field

The Nationals optioned Bryce Harper to Triple-A Syracuse Sunday, the same day he struck out four times in a spring training loss to the Tigers. Harper was probably headed to the minors to begin the season regardless of his performance in spring training, but missing six games with a calf injury and then punching out four times in the same game probably made it easier for the team to send him down.

The interesting part about Bryce starting in the minors is that the team plans to play him in center field. The Washington Post says the team sees him making it to the majors as a center fielder, which would make things easier for Jayson Werth who feels comfortable playing right field.

GM Mike Rizzo also wants Harper to experience every level in the minors, so that’s why he’s starting in Triple-A, the only level he hasn’t played yet. It’s a smart move for the Nats on a few fronts. One, starting Harper at Triple-A should motivate him to reach his goal of making the majors because t will give him more time to mature as a person and player. Additionally, it keeps his MLB service time clock from starting, delaying his free agency.

Bryce Harper is playing the wrong sport, wants to ‘run your ass over’

As Major League Baseball anxiously awaits the day that Bryce Harper arrives on the scene to ruffle as many feathers as possible, the 19-year-old phenom has done his best to keep his jaw muscles in shape. Most recently, Harper brought his tough guy act to an interview with GQ Magazine, during which he tried to describe his passion for baseball but gave off the impression that he should be playing football, which he said is the sport he misses most from his childhood.

“I’m getting chills just thinking about it,” Harper explained. “That first knock of the game, you are going on kickoff and you are just trying to smack somebody just as hard as you can. That’s how I play baseball. I want to hit you. I want to run your ass over. Sorry.

“I want to play the game hard. I want to ram it down your throat, put you into left field when I’m going into second base.”

When Harper does finally reach the MLB level, people are going to hate him. He’s a cocky kid who has been known to blow kisses at opposing pitchers and act like an idiot when things don’t go his way. In fact, even his own hometown radio hosts think Harper is a d-bag. Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt predicts Harper could be in for a rude awakening when he finally goes up against the big guns.

“I would think at some point the game itself, the competition on the field, is going to have to figure out a way to police this young man,” Schmidt said.

Bryce is a tremendous talent, but he would be wise to not blow a kiss to someone like Justin Verlander when he reaches the Majors. Unless, of course, he enjoys pain so much that a 101-mph fastball to the ear won’t bother him.

H/T Hardball Talk

DC radio host Chad Dukes calls Bryce Harper a douchebag (Audio)

Nationals prospect Bryce Harper became a media and fan target when he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated at age 16 in 2009. Since then, he’s been ejected from the JUCO World Series, worn a faux hawk haircut, blown a kiss to an opposing pitcher, and named his puppy “Swag.” After that laundry list of offenses, it’s easy to see why he’s so despised and why he closed his Twitter account to avoid giving haters more ammunition.

The good news for Harper detractors is if you don’t like the guy, you’re not alone. During a radio interview on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philly Thursday, Washington D.C. radio host Chad Dukes called Harper a “douchebag.”

Dukes was talking with Tony Bruno and Harry Mayes about the Nats’ FU Philly campaign when he dropped the d-bag bomb on Bryce for repping the Dallas Cowboys in the land of Redskins fans.

Pay close attention around the :25 second mark in the audio below to hear it:

Yup, the kid is disliked even in his hometown. It’s really a shame too — Harper’s so good, I want to like him, but he makes it nearly impossible.

H/T The Nats Enquirer

Nationals won’t talk about Bryce Harper around Davey Johnson to quell excitement

Spring training is an important time for managers to be able to gauge what they’re working with. For the most part, rosters are predetermined based on offseason acquisitions and past performances. There are, however, a few spots that need to be filled with younger players. The winter months give managers and coaches time to evaluate players who are on the bubble, assuming the coaches don’t withhold information from the manager. Such is the case with Bryce Harper and the Nationals. Apparently Washington’s coaches are trying to curb manager Davey Johnson’s excitement.

“And a funny thing happened today,” Johnson said according to the Washington Post. “They were talking Rendon, LaRoche, Lombardozzi, Espi, damn near everybody over there. I asked them, I said, ‘I didn’t hear one word about Harper? Is he there?’ They said, ‘He’s okay, he’s fine.’ They don’t want to make a comment. Because they like him. They don’t want to try to influence me in any manner.”

Harper looks sharp, and the coaches don’t want Johnson jumping the gun. The prodigy is only 19 and struggled last year in the minors, but he admitted some of that was a result of boredom. The Nationals don’t want to bring him up until he’s ready, but Johnson’s argument is that he has a pretty good track record of unleashing young players.

“I had Dwight Gooden when he was 18 pitching for me in the Class AAA World Series,” he said. “Did I care that he was 18? I told the organization that I thought the best pitcher down below wasn’t in Double A. He was in A ball, in Lynchburg, a guy named Dwight Gooden. They let me have him for the playoffs, and he won two games. I knew he could flat-out pitch. I don’t look at age or color – you can either play or you can’t.”

The Nationals’ marketing department is certainly anxious to get Harper going, but he is young enough that the team can afford to wait. Johnson and the rest of the team would probably love the excitement, but the last thing you want to do is stunt his growth. If I had to guess, I’d say Harper will be in the minors to start the season.