HAGERSTOWN, Md. - Single-A Hagerstown Suns right fielder Bryce Harper slapped a double down the right field line and scored a run in the fifth inning of a 4-3 victory over Kannapolis on Wednesday at Municipal Stadium.
Harper finished 1-3 with the double, a strikeout and a lineout to left field. His average stays at .366.
With the base hit, Harper erased an 0-for-11 stretch.
“It felt good to get out there and get the win,” Harper said. “It felt good to get that base hit out of the way and get going again. We have a lot of guys in front of me hitting well and a lot of guys behind me hitting well. That is huge.”
On defense, Harper caught one fly ball in the fourth inning for an out. He also made a smart move sliding in front of the chain link fence down the right field foul line while trying to track down a fly ball in foul territory. He didn’t catch the ball - it was just out of reach - but he also got up uninjured.
“I thought I could make that play,” Harper said. “If I had slid headfirst I might of knocked my head a little bit. I didn’t do that. I slid on my leg. It didn’t work out as well as I wanted to. There is nothing I can do about it.”
Does that mean Harper is being less aggressive and protecting his body to endure the rigors of an 140 game season? Harper says he doesn’t look at it that way.
“I don’t really think about it,” Harper said. “If you are playing scared out there you are not going to make the plays that you want to make. I am not scared of a wall. I am not scared of a fence. You have to be a little bit careful. Like you said, you have 140 games out here and you want to play in every single one of those. You want to be smart.”
Harper has spent the majority of his first two months at Hagerstown as a right fielder, but also has taken a few innings in center field and is willing to play wherever Suns manager Brian Daubach needs him that day.
“I played center a little bit for a couple of games,” Harper said. “Right field is primarily where I am playing right now. I love playing center field. Anywhere I can play to help out the team is huge. I can play left, center or right. I can be behind the plate, whatever they want me to do.”
It is an interesting configuration at Municipal Stadium. There is no fan seating down the right field line. The wall and fence surround Harper. The general admission seating ends just after first base and then the two clubhouses block fans from talking to Harper during the game.
The only people close to Harper on that side of the field are the home bullpen pitchers and catchers.
“I love my bullpen,” Harper laughs. “I love talking with them. I mess with them. We have a great group of guys out here and it is fun to chatter and mess around a little bit.”
Fresh off an 18-game hitting streak, it appears his recent 0-for-11 did not bother him. Harper says he still feels really good at the plate.
“I think it was just getting comfortable in the box and getting 60 or 70 at-bats underneath me (that) was huge,” Harper said. “It is not like spring training where a different guy comes in every single inning. You get locked in and get zoned in. You start playing.”
“When I ended my streak in that game, I hit two balls right at guys. There is nothing I can do. Try to look at that next at-bat and get going again, try to start another streak.”