VIERA, Fla. - When Bryce Harper first walked into the Nationals clubhouse this morning, one thing was evident immediately.
He's packed on a few pounds.
I don't say that in a negative way. It's not like Harper was pounding Krispy Kremes all offseason and now has a gut. Far from it, in fact. He's a mountain of muscle now, with broad shoulders and a toned upper-body.
Harper says he put on a good bit of muscle this offseason, bulking up to 230 lbs after being listed at 215 lbs. last season. That was by design, however; Harper says he loses a good bit of weight over the course of the season, and even says he expects to be down to 220 lbs. by the time spring training is over.
"It's a long stressful season, of course. I think a lot of mental stress and things like that," Harper said. "I think mentally, wear and tear on your body, on your mind and whatnot. Going into the offseason, you try to put all the weight back on and work hard. I take a lot of pride in my workouts. I try to work hard every single day. I lift as hard as I can, get as big as I can in spring training because I know I'm going to lose a lot of weight because I'm a guy who comes in a loses a lot of weight quick."
In addition to hitting the gym, Harper also spent a lot of time with his family this offseason. He got to hang out with his parents in Las Vegas, chill with his brother Bryan, who also plays in the Nationals' organization, and see his sister, her husband and their young son.
He returns to spring training this year with almost a full major league season under his belt and a National League Rookie of the Year trophy on his shelf. Despite all that success last season, Harper insists he doesn't go into this year feeling comfortable or established as a big leaguer. He plans to approach this season exactly the same way he did the last.
"I'm still 20, so I'm kind of young," Harper said. "It's going to be the same thing. I'm going to treat every single guy on our team with respect. I'm still that young guy out there. I'm still going to play the same game I play, 120 percent every single day I'm out there. If I'm hurt, on my deathbed, it doesn't really matter. I'm going to go out there, work hard and play the game the right way.
"I don't think you ever should be comfortable. I think you should just play your game and play as hard as you can every single day. I want perfection out of myself and I think everybody wants perfection out of our team. And we're going to come out here and play our game and hopefully get deeper than we did last year. And hopefully have a shot at having a parade at the end."
Davey Johnson indicated yesterday that he plans to play Harper in left field this season. That's cool by Harper.
"I started out there last year," Harper said. "So it's just another spot, trying to make some plays, throw some guys out. And just hit. That's the biggest thing. As long as I'm in the lineup, I'm hitting, doing anything I can do to help this team. That's good for me."
Ask Harper about his personal goals for this season and you'll get an interesting answer. He's clearly focused on the team first and foremost, but his competitive spirit also shines through when discussing what he expects out of himself.
"World Series. That's the biggest thing on my mind," Harper said. "I have things in my head, goals in my head but I'm not ready to share those because people are probably going to think I'm crazy. I like to exceed my expectations and those are the only expectations that really matter to me. But you know, the World Series is the biggest thing on my mind and I want to take that back to D.C. and give it to this organization and everybody in D.C."