They knew it was coming. Angels outfielder Mike Trout and Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper have been compared to each other for years: Same approximate height, weight, age. Given their talents, it was inevitable.
So before the two met on the field for the first time in their young careers on Monday night at Nationals Park, they were ready to discuss everything from their relationship to their appreciation of the other’s talents to their time as teammates in the Arizona Fall League in 2011.
“There was a lot of hype,” Trout remembered of that season when he and Harper played for the Scottsdale Scorpions. “But we were terrible.”
Trout was far more willing to reminisce, dropping multiple one-liners during his session with the media and drawing one laugh after another. But Harper did speak about the inevitable comparisons, especially since Trout has already one an American League MVP Award and he still aspires to reach that level. He’s not there yet and that leaves some critics carping that the two shouldn’t be compared at all.
“I really don’t care. I could care less about opinions. Everybody’s got one,” Harper said. “If they like him, they like him. If they like me, they like me. If they like both of us, then they know the game. And if they don’t, then they’re crazy.”
The two aren’t necessarily best friends, though Trout said he jokingly sent Harper a message after watching highlights of a ball he hit into the third deck at Nationals Park earlier this month.
“A couple of the guys in the clubhouse were wondering if you got jammed on that ball you hit down the line,” Trout cracked via text.
The two did talk about Harper’s benching by manager Matt Williams on Saturday during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals for not running out a comebacker to the pitcher.
“[Harper] plays the game hard,” Trout said. “He’s max effort every time – you know, besides the lack of hustle the other day. But that’s the way they have it over there. If you don’t obey the rules you pay the price. He respected it.”