Slight adjustment in approach lifts Bryce Harper out of slump

BOWIE, Md. -- With two doubles off of a pitcher who made 18 starts with the Baltimore Orioles, and three doubles in a seven at-bat span, the Nationals’ No. 1 prospect Bryce Harper continues to hit the ball hard, and now is getting some of the positive results he saw during the first two months at Single-A Hagerstown.

Harrisburg Senators hitting coach Troy Gingrich said they have worked with Harper on his approach, but he was still making good contact, even during the rough patch around the All-Star break.

“He is going to be fine,” Gingrich said prior to Monday’s opener. “In that 1-for-25, he was hitting a lot of balls hard and a lot balls right at guys. He was getting frustrated.”

“So towards the end of the 1-for-25, that’s when he started to try do a little bit too much. That was when he got into a little bit of as funk. I would say the last three games of it is when he started to get something going.”

Gingrich said he talked with Harper during the slump and focused the young star on relaxing at the plate.

“We just talked and said the (hits) are going to fall in so (we got him to) get back to what he was doing well,” Gingrich said. “When he does that and says (that) to himself he works pretty well.”

Harper was rushing his approach a little and that’s when they made an adjustment.

“When he starts to try to do (too much), that’s when he loses his front side a little bit and his swing gets longer,” Gingrich said. “So when he is under control like the last few games in Richmond he was back to himself again.”

Gingrich said it is understandable for any hitter, even Harper, in making the jump from Low-A to Double-A, to encounter a learning curve when facing pitchers with quality breaking stuff for the first time.

“Especially coming from Hagerstown where a good pitcher commands one pitch,” Gingrich said. “In Double-A, a good pitcher commands two pitches and probably has three going. Seeing guys 2-0 he might see a slider or a curveball as opposed to a 2-0 fastball in Hagerstown.”

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