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Posted at 5:39 PM ET, 03/ 9/2011

Bryce Harper is feeling hitterish

By Adam Kilgore

harper shades.jpg

Bryce Harper's debut, when he struck out twice on seven pitches, is feeling more and more like an insignificant memory. Harper laced an RBI single during today's 8-4 Nationals win over the Marlins in his only at-bat, which raised his spring training batting average to .357. Fourteen spring at-bat does not mean much for most players. For an 18-year-old to notch five hits in that span against major league, it seems rather telling.

In his 10 games with major leaguers, Harper has clearly become comfortable. He has four hits in his last five at-bats dating back to the weekend, with four RBIs during that span. Harper could be included Saturday when the Nationals make their next round of cuts, but he's making an impression while he's here.

"I feel really good up there," Harper said. "I feel really confident in myself. There's guys who are going to come after you. I want to hit right now. I'm feeling hitterish. I'm trying to go up there and get some hacks in. I'm not going to be here for a long time. I want to try to go up there and get my hits in."

Yeah, he really did say "hitterish." So now we have to add one more word to the Bryce Harper Dictionary, just ahead of "oppo boppo" and "rinky dinks." And what, exactly, would the definition be?

"You wake up in the morning, and you're feeling hitterish, you're going to get a hit that day," Harper said. "That's what it is. If you get a hit every day, you're feeling hitterish, for sure. Wake and rake."

Harper, surely, is here to rake. He's taken more than his fair share of swings; today's hit, a single to right off Brian Sanches that knocked in Chris Marrero, came on the first pitch he saw, a changeup.

"It was up, so I swung," Harper said. "Anything that looks good to me, I'm going to swing at it.

"I don't know about free-swinger. I'm not going to swing at every single pitcher when I go up there. If it's away or if it's off, I'm not going to swing at it. I know the strike zone pretty well. But if it's there anywhere close, they're going to be there. So if you need to jump on a first-pitch changeup, fastball, curveball, then I'm going to."

By Adam Kilgore  | March 9, 2011; 5:39 PM ET
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Next: Jason Marquis's efficiency, Danny Espinosa's big day, Todd Coffey's dominance


Lovin this dude...

Posted by: NatsDLite | March 9, 2011 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Hitterish. Wake and Rake. Just outstanding.

More additions to the Youth Baseball lexicon...and you better believe the little guys are saying oppo boppo with war paint smeared on their faces.

Posted by: joemktg1 | March 9, 2011 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Yesterday he was quoting Ted Williams. Today it sounds like he's channeling Yogi Berra.

Posted by: gilbertbp | March 9, 2011 6:03 PM | Report abuse

I would send him to double A after spring training with these instructions; let him play every day and let's see what happens imho this kid need's to be on the fast track.

Posted by: dargregmag | March 9, 2011 6:03 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Brue | March 9, 2011 6:10 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you dargreg. I don't see what low A and high A ball are going to do for this kid.
If the powers that be say he needs time in the minors, so be it. But start him at AA, call him up when rosters expand in September and let him play.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 9, 2011 6:10 PM | Report abuse

I would send him to double A after spring training ...

Posted by: dargregmag

Hope not: want to see him in Woodbridge for at least a few weeks.

Posted by: joemktg1 | March 9, 2011 6:10 PM | Report abuse

He probably needs more work in the field than at the plate but screw that "years remaining clock". Maybe he gets injured and it's just a waste of time like with Stras. Put the guy on the team and let him play. He's obviously better than probably at least half if not 3/4 of the team. Bring him north and I don't mean Hagerstown.

Posted by: dovelevine | March 9, 2011 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Hitterish is actually an expression Richie Ashburn used to use, good to see that Bryce is getting material from some pretty good HOF left handed hitters!

Posted by: HawkDoc | March 9, 2011 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Wake and rake... as opposed to Elijah Dukes wake and bake morning routine.

Posted by: destewar | March 9, 2011 6:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm feeling a little drinkerish myself. Sit and slurp.

Posted by: utec | March 9, 2011 6:37 PM | Report abuse

>Hitterish is actually an expression Richie Ashburn used to use, good to see that Bryce is getting material from some pretty good HOF left handed hitters!

Posted by: HawkDoc

And if they send him down. IT'LL BE OVER BEFORE IT STARTS

I mean stick him in centerfield and just shut up and enjoy it like everyone else.

Posted by: Brue | March 9, 2011 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Harper belongs in Potomac not Hagerstown. He'll likely demolish the South Atlantic league and destroy a few pitching egos in the process ... sorry Hagerstown. He'd learn more in Potomac or Harrisburg than in Hagerstown. He needs to learn to be a bit more discriminating and take those walks the way Norris has learned to do. Otherwise, yeah, he looks like he could probably start in Harrisburg as Strasburg did. That could conceivably happen ... if he can learn what he needs to learn there why not? Harrisburg ALSO will need some offense.

And @Brue "Mr. Toten Hosen", gee dude, right now Bixler, Morse, Ramos, Frazier, Bernadina and Espinosa look to me like they are hitting better than Harper, Werth, Morgan, Desmond, Zimmerman and IRod. They really are "raking"? They've got plenty of offense which is what Rizzo your "PANTS" guy planned all along. You claim to have played before you should know better what the bejeesus are you thinking? They have plenty of guys in spring in great shape who want jobs. They only have TWO top once-in-a-generation prospects. It behooves Mr. PANTS and the organization to ensure they are groomed properly for their roles. EVEN TED WILLIAMS, the last guy in modern baseball to hit .400 at age 22 did that! C'mon! If they listen to you both could become "Toten Hosen' instead of real players. Kind a like JMax.

Posted by: periculum | March 9, 2011 6:44 PM | Report abuse

He's good-potentially great--but not ready yet. Saw him in 6 games last week. He plays mostly in the second half of the game when the top pitchers are gone. He is not at all ready to play the outfield in the bigs. Otherwise, great arm, fast on the bases. I watched him make amazing progress in 6 games. Nats should stay with the plan, let him tear up A ball, move to AA by mid-June and see what happens from there.

Posted by: JamesFan2 | March 9, 2011 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Everyone remember (for those who haven't really been following?) Jim "LEATHER PANTS" Bowden promoted JMax allowing him to skip Potomac and Harrisburg. He was supposed to be a superstar center fielder for a decade ... remember? Do you think Bowden helped his career doing that? How's ol' JMax the superstar stud doing now?

Let Harper go down for a couple of year and demolish a couple minor leagues as Ted Williams did. Instead of maybe a .290-max hitter mayhap you end up with a FOUR HUNDRED HITTER? Who wouldn't want that?

Posted by: periculum | March 9, 2011 6:49 PM | Report abuse

who do you guys skip past faster? Brue or McP

Posted by: sjm3091 | March 9, 2011 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Harper belongs in Potomac

Posted by: periculum

No you belong in Potomac mf.

Posted by: Brue | March 9, 2011 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Perri; There's a big difference between JMax and Harper i don't remember JMax being on the cover of SI at sixteen, i think the fact that JMax grew up with two accomplished well educated parent's might have tempered JMax's drive. Bryce Harper has skills and want's "it".JMax wants it but no where near the level that Harper does.

Posted by: dargregmag | March 9, 2011 7:00 PM | Report abuse

> I watched him make amazing progress in 6 games. Nats should stay with the plan, let him tear up A ball, move to AA by mid-June and see what happens from there.

Posted by: JamesFan2

This is the key right here - it only took six games to make amazing progress. Would you rather have him make amazing progress where the at-bats count, or not? He's hittin .357 and he has to beg for one at-bat a game.

Suck on it and like it

Posted by: Brue | March 9, 2011 7:03 PM | Report abuse

who do you guys skip past faster? Brue or McP
Posted by: sjm3091 | March 9, 2011 6:49 PM


Which do you like better? The sound of fingernails on a chalk board or Rosanne Barr singing the national anthem?

Posted by: js_edit | March 9, 2011 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Is this youngster a left handed Vladimir Guerrero or what?

Posted by: cokedispatch | March 9, 2011 10:46 PM | Report abuse

well, he may not learn much in Hagerstown, but I'm ok with sending him there. If he hits .375 in April, send him to Potomac. If he hits .375 there in May, then send him to AA.

Posted by: Section406 | March 10, 2011 12:37 AM | Report abuse

Actually I believe Harper got the term hitterish (or his Dad cause that's where I think he got it from) from the late great hitting coach Charley Lau. Lau used that term in interviews to describe good hitters. George Brett (HOF'er by the way) credits Lau with all his hitting success.

And I'm sure Bryce (again via his Dad) read all of Lau's hitting books. In fact, Charlie Lau Jr. has written a hitting book also.

I can tell by his weight shift and top-hand release that Bryce's hitting mechanics are classic Lau.

Posted by: bubbad | March 10, 2011 2:37 AM | Report abuse

Start him in A or AA, it doesn't really matter. What matters is that he is not held back when he is hitting and fielding well and ready to advance.

HELLO, this kid is special.

He should be a September call up even if he is not quite ready, just to give him a taste of the bigs so he will know how he compares to the best.

Are you listening Rizzo?

Posted by: REDSKINRAYINCA | March 10, 2011 2:57 AM | Report abuse

i liked my wake and bake reference. haha. did it fly over everyone's head? or does no one here know what that means?

Posted by: destewar | March 10, 2011 4:00 AM | Report abuse

Hey where's Poopy in all this? Doesn't he have a comment? I know we would all love to hear it.

Posted by: wartown1 | March 10, 2011 6:58 AM | Report abuse

I remember last year we were all trying to figure out SS clock date. Does anybody know when Harpers is? I think Morse is a great place holder for his spot, and then when he gets here for the first month have him platoon with Morse so he could get his feet wet.

Posted by: hansenjo | March 10, 2011 9:15 AM | Report abuse

@destewar: I got it, nice. You don't have to beg for people to like it, though.

As for Harper, I'm loving this kid more and more every day. "Hitterish?" "Wake 'N Rake?" A few more of those and he'll be entering Charlie Sheen Territory when it comes to making up words and phrases. He's got tiger blood and Adonis genes. He's an F-18, bro.

Posted by: jedd_narsavage | March 10, 2011 10:09 AM | Report abuse

The kid is a throwback hybrid to Pete Rose's better days and a guy named Ted Williams.

If he can keep plate discipline and take his walks, he will be something special. If he gets up there to hack and whack, he will be like too many others that are average.

While in the minors, the kid needs to work on off-speed pitches and breaking balls to be the full package and keep the plate discipline and when he can do that, he will see many many All Star games.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | March 10, 2011 10:45 AM | Report abuse

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