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.

Nats GM: Bryce Harper is cocky and egotistical, but not malicious

He compares himself to Joe Namath and blows kisses to opposing pitchers after home runs, all before he’s seen a single pitch in the Majors. Bryce Harper‘s arrogance is tremendous and undeniable. Much so, in fact, that even his own GM won’t deny it. But Mike Rizzo wants you to know that Harper means well even though the Nationals’ budding phenom has episodes of douchiness.

“There’s not a malicious bone in his body,” the Nats GM said to The Washington Post on Tuesday. “Now, there’s a cocky bone in there. And there’s an ego bone. And there are other bones … but there’s not a malicious bone in his body.”

Rizzo also said that the club is working closely with Harper on how to improve his public relations. But even though Harper is still only a teenager, Rizzo expects the outfielder to hold himself to a higher standard.

“We’re not just saying that he’s a 19-year-old kid and that he’s making typical 19-year-old mistakes,” Rizzo said. “He’s a different case. He’s a special-case scenario. This guy is in the public eye. … When this guy tweets it out, or says something, it can go viral. There’s a difference here. We recognize it.”

Harper, who was drafted first overall in 2010, has a chance to make the Nationals out of Spring Training this year despite never playing higher than Class AA. So, some advice to him: Don’t be a headache for D.C. sports fans; Leave that to Daniel Snyder.

Photo credit: US Presswire

Bryce Harper wants to be like Joe Namath, have fun off the field

Bryce Harper may be only 19 years old and have enormous baseball potential, but he is not exactly the most lovable character. Harper marches to the beat of his own drum and doesn’t seem to care what anyone thinks about it. That confidence likely has contributed to his success on the baseball field, but it also tends to irritate the people around him. Harper has struggled in the minors and would need to put in a ton of work to make the Nationals team this spring. If and when he does become a superstar athlete, however, he wants to live his life like Joe Namath.

“I’m going to be my own person,” Harper said in an interview with MLB.com. “There are a lot of professional athletes back in the old days that did what they wanted to do. That’s how I’m going to be. I’m going to prove myself on the field, so I can be that kind of guy off the field.

“I’m not a clown off the field. I just say things … I speak my mind and I think that’s good. If I speak my mind and people know the real me, then they are going to like me more. I’m not a liar. I say things I want to say. That’s how it is, I guess.

[Read more...]

Bryce Harper Named His Puppy ‘Swag’

The cute little puppy pictured above belongs to Washington Nationals super-prospect, Bryce Harper. Harper apparently got the puppy as a Christmas gift, and he shared a picture of the rascal via Twitter. Harper also said he named the chocolate lab “Swag.”

The same guy who blows kisses to opposing pitchers after hitting home runs would also name his dog Swag. Such a Bryce Harper thing to do it’s not even surprising.

Forearm bash to Nats Enquirer via Deadspin