All through the process of scouting Bryce Harper, the Nationals have reached the conclusion the 17-year-old's character is not an issue, and they've defended that conclusion even as reports cropped up from time to time about Harper misbehaving on the field.
They were bound to get questions about it on Monday night, when they took Harper No. 1 overall after he was thrown out of his final amateur game for arguing with an umpire. And team executives said again they believe Harper is not a character risk.
"There are no concerns about this player's makeup. We are sold on him, his family, the character of the player," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "He acts like a 17-year-old at times. I don't want to tell you what I did when I was 17. He's mature beyond his years as far as performance on the field, tools and development, and even his social skills."
Rizzo said Harper is a "baseball rat," and team executives have said all along his on-field spats - arguing with umpires, taunting opposing players and sarcastically bowing to fans - have come from his hypercompetitive personality and desire to be the best. Those are good things, when properly applied, and the Nationals have no other concerns with Harper's makeup.
"We know him as well as any team in baseball can know a player," Rizzo said. "His college coach (Tim Chambers) is a good friend of (assistant GM) Roy Clark's. He's a great kid. He's a spiritual person. ... We've got high expectations for him."
The Nationals will put a few restrictions in place for Harper, though. Rizzo hinted they will limit media access to him, much as they did with Stephen Strasburg in the minors and as Chambers did with Harper at the College of Southern Nevada.
"We're going to protect the player," Rizzo said. "We're going to limit access if we feel that it interferes with what we're trying to do. And we make no apologies for it. This is all about getting the player to maximize his development, to expedite his development in a careful, prudent, calculated way to get them to the right place at the right time."
And Harper's eye-black-as-warpaint look will have to go. Asked if Harper would be allowed to wear warpaint, Rizzo quickly said, "No."