Phenom Bryce Harper has been on a parental-imposed media blackout for much of the winter. He emerges a bit today with a profile in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. It’s a good read if for no other reason than it reminds you that Harper is painfully, painfully young to be going through what he’s been going through since that Sports Illustrated cover hit last summer:
“I had a transition from high
school to college, and it was pretty hard at the beginning. I was
second-guessing myself and thinking maybe I shouldn’t have done this,”
Harper said Tuesday.
“There were times when I was in my room or with my family or
something, and it was pretty hard because everybody was out there
saying stuff. I can’t live up to all the hype and everything like that.”
Harper, an honor student in high school, earned his GED test
credentials and was excelling at CSN while recording a 4.0 grade-point
average. But he was failing for the first time in baseball, compiling
too many 0-for-4 days at practice and striking out when he was
accustomed to hitting home runs.
“It really hurt me, and I was thinking maybe this isn’t for me,” he said, pausing. “But I put that aside.”
He’s doing better now, settling into a groove and leading his JC team in homers and RBIs. A JC team that is ranked number one in the nation. Oh, and he has a hilarious sense of humor too:
Harper, being advised by agent
Scott Boras, said it’s not a foregone conclusion that he will enter
June’s major league draft, which could net him a signing bonus in the
neighborhood of $10 million.
Sure it isn’t a foregone conclusion. His parents didn’t rob him of two years of high school and cram him into junior college because they wanted to circumvent the draft rules for high schoolers. They were simply worried he couldn’t get a prom date if he stayed in high school. That’s the ticket.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.