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Bryce Harper's coach: 'I expect him to sign'

Bryce Harper spent Saturday at Tim Chambers' home, watching movies and eating dinner with his coach at the College of Southern Nevada. Their season had just ended, and Chambers could sense Harper realizing how much his life was about to change. "Everything is going to be fine," Chambers told Harper.

Harper, 17, will become the first pick of the draft tonight. He'll watch on television with his family in California. He's ready for it, Chambers said.

"He doesn't really get caught up in it," Chambers said. "He's excited. I don't think he can go through any more than he went through this year. He's matured a whole bunch. He learned how to deal with failure. Watching him for a whole year, to go from what he was to what he is now, was incredible."

After the Nationals choose Harper, the focus will shift to the process of him officially becoming a National. Harper is a client of super-agent Scott Boras, who is notorious for protracted negotiations that brush up against the deadline for draftees to sign, which this year is Aug. 15. The Nationals struck a record, $15.1 million deal with Stephen Strasburg, another Boras client, minutes before midnight of last year's deadline.

Harper may have more leverage than Strasburg because he is only 17. Chambers, though, believes Harper will be willing to sign with the Nationals without an ordeal.

"I know that he loves to play baseball," Chambers said. "I expect him to sign. I'm not a mind-reader. I have talked to his family about it. They said, 'We don't want to hold out. We want to sign and get this over with.' "

Before he does anything, Harper will rest for at least a few weeks. "I know that he's tired right now," Chambers said.

Harper played his lone season at College of Southern Nevada under intense scrutiny, and his season ended with a final moment of controversy. On Wednesday, playing in the Junior College World Series, Harper was ejected after protesting a strike-three call. Harper dragged his bat in the dirt to trace where the pitch traveled.

The ejection was "a farce," Chambers said. "I actually told him, 'I watched it 25 times, you actually were a little bit short.' It was 10 inches off the plate.

"I immediately walked to home plate. Bryce walked to the dug out, took his shoes off. Certainly, he shouldn't have done it. But the [umpire] should have realized the stage and the atmosphere, the local attendance. There were 10,000 people booing the umpire. I was proud of Bryce for walking back to the dugout and not saying anything else."

The next day, Harper's teammates played without him. Harper had to say home at the team's hotel in Grand Junction, Colo. In tribute, they smeared eye black all over their face, mimicking one of Harper's trademarks. One player said he lost his jersey -- "I don't know if he was lying," Chambers said -- and wore Harper's. Several players inscribed 34 on their spikes or caps.

"He realizes how much people care for him," Chambers said.

The College of Southern Nevada lost without Harper, meaning his college career had ended. When the team bus rolled back into the hotel, Harper was sitting there on the curb, signing an autograph.

His college career over, Harper still couldn't escape the attention. Harper had left high school two years early to enroll at CSN. Later, on his last day as a college baseball player, Harper realized something and told Chambers.

"As of today," he said, "I'm officially a senior."

By Adam Kilgore  |  June 7, 2010; 4:20 PM ET
Categories:  Bryce Harper  
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Next: Could the Nationals draft two Harpers?


I think he'll sign before the all-star break and get to play some rookie league ball this summer.

Posted by: lowcountry | June 7, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

I can't imagine that Harper wants to do anything but sign and play for the Nats this year. And if he and his family tell Scott Boras that they want to sign immediately, Boras will make that happen.

However, I think Boras will convince them that waiting until the deadline in mid-August will allow him to negotiate the best deal and will do nothing to stunt his development. And I don't begrudge Harper (or Boras) one bit for doing this. This is the last time he will get to negotiate a contract for years.

Posted by: NattyFan | June 7, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

>>I have talked to his family about it," said Harper's coach Tim Chambers. "They said, 'We don't want to hold out. We want to sign and get this over with.' "

In related news, Tim Chambers has been reported missing. He was last seen meeting with Scott Boros.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 7, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Very interesting. I assume that Harper will be the pick, but you are, realistically talking about a minimum of 2 - 3 years, if he plays catcher, slightly less, if RF (Call up in Sept. 2011?).

My thought is that he may have less leverage than some have stated, because:

1. It is very likely that the O's will have the first pick in 2011 & they already have "the catcher of the future", to say nothing of a dysfunctional (voted worst owner in pro sports) organization.

2. The class of 2011 is projected to be very good, as opposed to this years mediocre class.

3. There should be a new CBA in place, which will, likely, have slotting for draftees, which could put even the #1 at a much smaller number than now.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | June 7, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Definitely interesting. Thanks for these tidbits, Killer Kilgore. (Hey, I'm just throwing it out there to see if it'll stick, and I think Kilgore Trout is already taken.)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 7, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

You know, I think that says a lot that the guys' team mates, the guys that matter the most, all took action to honor the young man... the media can say what they want about his attitude, but his team mates were paying tribute to him... what higher honor could an athlete get then to be honored by those you play with and depend on you...

Posted by: Ghost7 | June 7, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

They said, 'We don't want to hold out. We want to sign and get this over with.' - Remind me again how Boras deals always get done quickly and aren't dragged out? Oh yeah, they usually are. Somebody is either lying or wasn't thinking when they picked Mr. Boras.

Posted by: futbolclif | June 7, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

He did not play in a game because the night before he had been ejected? I hope he plays more maturely for the Nats.

Posted by: JPMcC | June 7, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

"Certainly, he shouldn't have done it. But the [umpire] should have realized the stage and the atmosphere, the local attendance."

After the past couple of weeks watching umpires at the major league level, I'm convinced this is exactly why the umpire ran him--"the stage and the atmosphere".

If Country Gravy Joe West has anything to do with it, this umpire will beat Harper to the Majors.

Posted by: thelonghaul | June 7, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Be nice if he signed and was playing by August 1st or so. Won't matter to much because I wouldn't expect him to be in DC playing ball until at least 2013, maybe 2014.

Posted by: cokedispatch | June 7, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

JP--He did not play in the next game because this was his second ejection of the season, which brings with it a 2-game suspension in that conference (or in all college baseball, I'm not sure which).

Posted by: thelonghaul | June 7, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

LOL@cokedispatch... 2013 or 2014? LOL!! This kid does need seasoning. I think the latest we see him full time is 2012... Depending on how quickly he signs... If he signs relatively quickly and is in the minors for a good bit this year I could see us having this guy in at the end of 2011 in Sept...

Posted by: jeffbo_80 | June 7, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Will Nieves just went 3 for 33. Anybody here think that Harper could do better than that right now? LOL SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE MANTLE II

Posted by: Brue | June 7, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

"I hope he plays more maturely for the Nats."

Given that he's only 17 now, and he probably won't play for the Nats until he's 19 or 20 -- and that's a bit optimistic -- then: yes, I'm sure he'll be more mature then.

Posted by: ADCWonk | June 7, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

The guy is a punk. No class with what he pulled this past weekend. Won't come close to Strasburg.

Posted by: lemme14 | June 7, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

"The guy is a punk. No class with what he pulled this past weekend. Won't come close to Strasburg."

Posted by: lemme14

Your ridiculous. What he pulled? He got upset with a strike call that was in the middle of the other batters box. I probably would have gotten kicked out myself. The kid has a 4.0, speaks very well, appears to be a good kid off the field, and has probably been called more names and harassed over the last 2 years more then you or I could ever imagine.

Get a Grip. The kids not a punk, he's 17

Posted by: JDB1 | June 7, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

We got our answer to Jason Heyward.

Posted by: chillsonic | June 7, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

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