(In the video above, Bryce Harper signs an autograph and poses for a picture with a kid who appears to be twice his age after his first practice with the Nationals in Florida on Friday, September 17.)
And so, Baseball's LeBron James took flight in a Curly W cap for the first time on Thursday. Bryce Harper went 0-2 in his Florida Instructional League debut for the Nationals, striking out twice. His "professional debut" took place a day after pretty much alienating the entire D.C./MD/VA Sports Universe in one 10 minute interview on DC sports talk radio. But Harper redeemed himself with quotes that almost make you want to buy the kid a beer soda pop:
"I'm just going to work hard down here. I'm going to work as hard as I can," he said when asked when he expects to be in The Show. "I'm going to let the higher powers take care of that. I'm just going to let them do it, see what they see. I like being challenged, so they can move me up as fast as they want. It really doesn't matter. But I've still got a lot of things to learn."
(Bryce Harper, via MLB.com, 9/23/2010)
"I hadn’t seen pitching for five months, it’s a little hard. It’s not easy to go up there ... and ‘Hey, wake up and let’s rake a little bit.’ I wish it was that easy. I was really comfortable at the plate, very comfortable. Thought I was on the fastball, thought I was on the slider. The change-up got me a little bit. It took me a little bit to get going in college ball. Everybody gets a spring training. This is mine."
(Bryce Harper, via Florida Today, 9/23/2010)
Florida Today's Mark Decotis reports that Harper had mixed results in a 5-inning debut in right field: "Harper played five innings in right field, snagging two fly balls and diving and missing a clean double."
Something tells me that like Strasburg, we'll be dissecting every word, at bat, and action this kid makes for the foreseeable future. Until the day he eventually signs with the Yankees a few years down the road...