- Extra-time goal gives Germany World Cup title over Argentina
- Strong quake hits Japan, triggering tsunami
- Sniper heaven: Pentagon’s self-guided bullets leave enemies nowhere to hide
- Violent gang taking advantage of immigration crisis, using border as recruiting hub
- Medicaid enrollment continues to soar under Obamacare, administration says
- Michelle Obama to Latinos: ‘We cannot afford to wait on Congress’ for immigration
- White House urges GOP to act ‘urgently’ on $3.7 billion request for illegal immigrants
- Politicians, criminals using ‘right-to-be-forgotten’ law EU courts forced upon Google
- Combat fatigue: elite special forces troops are ‘fraying,’ Gen. Joseph Votel warns
- German foreign minister to meet Kerry to discuss spying claims
Bryce Harper taking D.C. by storm
Nineteen-year-old gets a feel for city
Question of the Day
It was the wee hours of the morning when the Washington Nationals touched down at Dulles Airport on Monday. In the previous 60 hours, Bryce Harper had traveled more than 5,300 miles. From Syracuse to Los Angeles to Washington.
But the 19-year-old phenom’s energy is boundless. Manager Davey Johnson joked he’d like to get a platelet-rich plasma shot from Harper. “I need some of that blood in me,” he said Tuesday afternoon, a few hours before Harper would have his D.C. coming out party.
Fellow call-up Tyler Moore slept until 2 p.m. he was so exhausted. Not Harper. Instead of sleeping in, allowing his body to adjust to the whirlwind of the past few days, Harper was up and out early. He stopped at Georgetown Cupcake, waited in just a five-minute line to get the red velvet treat he’d been craving and stumbled upon a school field trip. So he stopped and posed for pictures with all the kids inside the small bakery.
Then it was off to the Lincoln Memorial, a landmark Harper hadn’t seen in his two previous trips to D.C. — the first for his introductory news conference after signing and the second for the 2011 Fan Fest. And he checked off other Washington highlights on the way. The White House, the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument.
“I think everything in the city is really cool,” Harper said, his eyes widening excitedly when asked his opinion of the Lincoln Memorial. “There are so many historic facts behind the city. I don’t think you could play in a better city. Everything happens here every single day.”
As he traversed the mall, Harper stumbled upon a slow-pitch softball game. The players, unsurprisingly, recognized him. “I think they see the rat tail and the tattoos,” he quipped, referencing his unique hairstyle.
They asked him to step in and take a few hacks. Harper resisted, but they insisted. He relented, and stepped into the box in his jeans and button up T-shirt as the players hurriedly got video cameras rolling.
Harper smiled slightly as the moment was brought up to him Tuesday, upwards of 10 cameras and at least 30 reporters crowded around him on the field at Nationals Park. Harper spent his first off day as a major leaguer acclimating himself with the city. He was relaxed. From cupcakes to a steak dinner at The Palms later in the evening, the reality began to set in.
After a lifetime of driving toward a singular goal, and doing so in a manner that prompted Johnson to call him perhaps the most driven athlete he’s ever been around, he had arrived.
“When I got to L.A., I got really comfortable,” Harper said. “I got up here, and I was really comfortable with things. In Triple-A, it was like, ‘Ah, I’ve got to prove this, I’ve got to do things to get back up to the big leagues because I want to be there so bad.’ Once I got up here, it was like a calm went over my body. It was like ‘You’re here, play the game.’ “
“I think it’s really going to set in when I run out to left field. Those chills, they’re going to come right back.”
General manager Mike Rizzo said he doesn’t really buy the theory that it’s sometimes easier for players to hit in the big leagues, the idea being there’s less pressure to perform because you’re already here. Rizzo did concede that, for Harper, “the brighter the lights, the better he plays.”
But Johnson agreed with the idea that his comfort level would rise higher here than it did in Syracuse. As Harper stood on the field Tuesday afternoon he explained why: “I don’t think I have to prove anything.”
How long he stays this time remains to be seen. In two games, Harper has displayed all of the jaw-dropping talent he possesses. Outside of getting his first home run, he’s been able to show off almost every reason he’s as touted as he is. He’s been able to show why, when his teammates heard the news, they were excited.
“I saw that and I was like ‘No. Way. That is awesome,’ ” closer Drew Storen said.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at email@example.com and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.
- What will Nationals do this offseason to contend again in 2014?
- As Nationals' manager search begins, Randy Knorr the players' choice
- Davey Johnson's big-league journey ends with Nationals loss
- Team spirit and Holy Spirit — for Nationals religion looms large on and off the field
- Jordan Zimmermann falls short of 20th win as Cardinals prevail again
Latest Blog Entries
- A fond farewell, and a bit of thanks
- Nationals coaches wait in limbo as team searches for next manager
- Davey Johnson won't be in uniform for Nationals in spring training
- Tanner Roark starts season finale with youthful lineup behind him (UPDATED)
- Dan Haren, Nationals top Diamondbacks in season's penultimate game
By Robert N. Tracci
Congress must use its appropriations power to secure the border
- DOJ investigates Nebraska parade float critical of Obama
- Agency scrubs Malia Obama photos at White House's request: report
- A 'new Cold War': China's top paper warns of 'slippery slope' towards conflict with U.S.
- Violent gang MS-13 taking advantage of immigration crisis, using border as recruiting hub
- Emeryville, Calif., police chief: Guns aren't for defense
- Pentagon's self-guided bullets leave enemies nowhere to hide
- New York City creates ID card so 500K illegal immigrants can get services
- Armed militia sets up Texas command center to 'fight for national sovereignty'
- CURL: The hypocrisy of Obama's 15-day Vineyard vacation
- Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi formerly a U.S. captive
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq
World Cup's sexiest WAGs