OK, so the White Sox-Cubs game isn’t even over yet, but I had to write something about this. Cubs backup catcher Dioner Navarro, who’s making a rare start in place of Welington Castillo, has homered three times in three at-bats. Navarro walked in his other plate appearance and has driven in a total of six runs.
Just to put that in some context, Navarro has a lifetime .357 slugging percentage and his career-high is nine homers, which he hit in 2007 while logging 434 plate appearances in 119 games. During the past four seasons he has a total of 11 homers in 476 plate appearances spread over 160 games.
Yet today he took John Danks deep twice from the right side of the plate and then hit a shot off reliever Brian Omogrosso from the left side of the plate. And in doing so Navarro joins John Buck earlier this season and Victor Martinez in 2004 as the only catchers to homer three times in a game during the past decade.
What a world.
When the Phillies go on the road, and even sometimes at home, outfielder Bryce Harper is a magnet for hecklers. Fans have been chanting things like “overrated” at him. But it hasn’t really been working.
Last night, Harper was being booed and ridiculed by fans at Fenway Park according to MLB.com’s Jessica Camerato. Harper shut them up with a two-run home run in the fifth inning which gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead, the score by which they would eventually win. Manager Gabe Kapler said, “I thought it was really interesting. There were some hecklers. I don’t know if they were Red Sox [fans] or who they were, but they were on him pretty good up until that moment. That was a pretty explosive moment for the dugout celebration.”
It is not the only time Harper has been heckled only to homer shortly thereafter.
Last week, Harper was 0-for-3 in a game against the Cubs. On his way back to the dugout, a fan yelled, “$330 million, 0-for-3.” Per TMZ Sports, Harper responded, “Shut the f–k up, stupid!” He would go on to hit a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Two weeks ago in San Francisco, fans chanted “overrated” at Harper. He promptly hit one of his two home runs in the Phillies’ 9-6 victory.
Harper was on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2009, when he was 17 years old. Tom Verducci compared him to LeBron James, a comparison that has stuck with Harper ever since. He was the No. 1 overall selection in the 2010 draft. He’s more than used to being in the spotlight and more than used to hearing a little criticism. He lets his haters be his motivators. Maybe his detractors should approach it from the opposite angle — try killing him with kindness. Yelling, “Bryce, you have great hair!” might get him to go on an 0-for-54 skid.