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Bryce Harper emulates Ichiro Suzuki for infield single

Mar 6, 2012, 1:04 PM EDT

Bryce Harper Getty Getty Images

Bryce Harper is highly-regarded for his elite power potential, but he took a page out of Ichiro Suzuki‘s book in order to beat out an infield single last night against the Mets.

With junkballing left-hander Daniel Herrera on the mound, Harper took a bit of a leaning start out of the box and slapped a pitch to the left side. It appeared to be a pretty routine ground ball to non-roster invitee Vinny Rottino at third base, but the 19-year-old hustled down the line in order to beat the throw. You can watch the play here.

Here’s Harper’s explanation of the hit, via Mark Zuckerman of

“I just tried to ‘Ichiro’ it,” Harper said, referring to the Mariners great who has made a living out of that fast-pitch softball-style swing. “I just tried to put the bat on the ball. That happened, and I just started running.”

Harper had two singles and a walk last night and is now 4-for-7 with four singles during Grapefruit League action. It would still be a surprise if he broke camp with the team given the obvious service clock considerations, but he’s getting plenty of playing time thus far. Michael Morse was scratched from today’s lineup with a lat strain, so Harper will start in right field for the fourth time in the past five days.

  1. nategearhart - Mar 6, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Very nice hit.

  2. dondada10 - Mar 6, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    I watched the Nats/Mets game on SNY last night and Harper looks legit. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if he broke camp.

  3. trevorb06 - Mar 6, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    I’m rooting for him to make the MLB out of the gate this year. I know it won’t happen but if I’m going to dream I’m going to dream big! [especially since hoping my Twins have a good season isn’t dreaming big, that’s dreaming impossible just like unicorns and flying pigs]

    • nategearhart - Mar 6, 2012 at 1:39 PM

      Agreed…I know it makes good sense to leave him down a while, but I always root for better baseball, and this kid is good.

  4. cur68 - Mar 6, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    That was cool. No ego involved in the “Ichiro”. Just good old Echsteinian scrappy. I give him a 1.8 on the Eckstein Scale O Scrappy for that slap-hit-and-hustle.

  5. The Baseball Idiot - Mar 6, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    I think everyone is getting a little over-excited. He’s not driving the ball. He’s either overmatched by Major League pitching, or something is wrong with him.

    Teahan had a worse swing than anything Harper did and drove it to the warning track.

    Harper isn’t going to see much playing time hitting groundball singles and looking unsteady in right.

    I don’t believe in keeping players in the minors because of some bullshit timeline, but Harper needs to be in the minor league camp.

    • icanspeel - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:47 PM

      It’s hardly a BS timeline.. it’s baseball economics. A team controls a player for only so many years so you don’t want they’re major league time wasted when the player is before their prime

      • The Baseball Idiot - Mar 6, 2012 at 5:50 PM

        If a guy has the talent to play the game, then you put him in the line-up at the highest level he can be competent at.

        I know what the ecomonics of the game are. Still doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.

    • natstowngreg - Mar 6, 2012 at 6:58 PM

      While I agree that Harper needs more experience in the minors, he doesn’t need to be in the minor-league camp yet. Teams have lots of guys in Major League camps who will end up in the minors, but they get experience in exhibitions. Even if he does end up at Harrisburg or Syracuse in April, there’s no rush to send him down.

  6. marshmallowsnake - Mar 6, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    Bryce Harper, the singles hitter. Has a nice ring to it.

  7. natstowngreg - Mar 6, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    hmmm, Mickey Mantle was known to beat out a bunt every once in a while. Not comparing Harper to The Mick, just sayin’…

    • The Baseball Idiot - Mar 7, 2012 at 3:02 AM

      Guys who are supposed to be big hitters that end up bunting do so because they know they aren’t hitting the ball well. Harper knows he’s not swinging the bat well. I know it. I’m willing to bet the team knows it. Keeping him in the major league camp is going to hurt more than help him. It’s only being done as a media stunt, which is what Spring Training is all about now anyhow. Does he, or we for that matter, need to listen to the endless stories about what a bad spring he had?

      Andit wasn’t a bunt. He’s not getting around on the ball and threw the bat out there to make contact. He has decent speed, and the element of surprise, so it worked. If that’s going to be his game, he’s a bust already.

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