“It’s very calculated. It’s all part of the plan,” Holland said. “They didn’t wake up on Tuesday and say maybe we’ll only make him available after games. They want to make sure the maturation is what goes on between the chalk.”
It echoes the approach the Nationals used with Stephen Strasburg. In 2010, he made the first three starts of his professional career in Harrisburg. The Senators issued 48 media credentials for Strasburg’s first start. Harper’s arrival this week bought 12 additional credentials.
“It’s a little inordinate, but he’s an inordinate player,” said Jon Laaser, who oversees media for the Flying Squirrels.
At Harper’s new home in Metro Bank Park in Harrisburg, signs advertise the already-past “cowboy monkey rodeo” and the “biggest fireworks show ever.” Country music pounds, past bushes covered in pink flowers, a half-dozen inflatable toys for children and the Ollie’s Bargin Outlet cheap seats in left field.
There aren’t the same signs of Harper’s arrival Hagerstown held. Back there, Bryce Harper bobblehead night has been shelved until next year. The legend hasn’t taken hold yet in Harrisburg. But Harper has the same swagger, even if he’s hitting sixth instead of third. He still signs autographs - Hagerstown’s team bus was frequently delayed because he tried to accommodate each request - with Luke 1:37.
“For with God,” the Bible verse reads, “nothing shall be impossible.”
The same could be said of Harper.