PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Another day, two more hits for Bryce Harper.
The Nationals’ top prospect is now an impressive 4-for-7 in Grapefruit League play after tonight’s 3-1 Nats win over the Mets, a game in which Harper went 2-for-2 with a walk. But those four hits might not have come the way many people would expect.
All four have been ground ball singles, not mashed home runs or smoked line-drive doubles.
That’s of no matter in Harper’s mind.
“They’re hits. That’s all that matters,” Harper said following tonight’s game. “If they’re on the ground, through the hole, up the middle or anything like that, they’re hits. That’s all that matters to me. It doesn’t really matter if it goes 500 feet or if it goes 20 feet. If it’s a hit, it’s a hit.”
Sounds like a mature 19-year-old to me.
Harper’s first hit of the night came on a bouncing ball up the middle. He walked in the fourth inning after a battle with Mets righty Matt Harvey, one of the team’s top prospects, and then singled again in the fifth inning, this time off right-hander Daniel Herrera.
The 6-foot-3, 225-lb. Harper channeled Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki (who checks in at 5-foot-11, 170 lbs.) by getting somewhat of a running start in the box and smacking one of Herrera’s super-slow offspeed pitches to the left side. Harper then showed impressive hustle, sprinting down the line and beating out the throw from third.
“I tried to Ichiro it,” a smiling Harper said. “I just tried to put the bat on the ball, and it happened and I just started running.”
Manager Davey Johnson was pleased with the effort.
“He plays hard,” Johnson said. “He’s a throwback.”
Johnson also was pleased with what he got out of lefty starter John Lannan in his first start of spring. Lannan gave up one run in three innings, allowing three hits, walking one and striking out one.
“I like what I saw,” Johnson said. “He threw the ball good. Gave me three good innings. Typically, he was really pumped up and he was overthrowing early. He does that. He’s real aggressive early and usually settles down and hits his spots and makes it look easy.”
If there’s a theme we can take from the three Grapefruit League games thus far, it’s that Nats starters overthrow early on in their outings.
Catcher Jesus Flores was hit by a pitch on his left hand in the fourth inning, but he appears to be OK.
“It just nicked him,” Johnson said.
Dan Kolko was named MASNsports.com’s Nationals beat writer after spending the last four years covering the Baltimore Ravens for MASN and also serving as the Web site’s deputy managing editor. A University of Delaware graduate originally from Silver Spring, Md., Dan grew up a die-hard baseball fan and is thrilled for the opportunity to cover the Nationals. Before joining MASN, Dan worked in production at Comcast SportsNet in Bethesda, Md., and also interned at the “George Michael Sports Machine” in Washington, D.C.
Follow Dan Kolko on Twitter: @DanKolko