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Nats not worried about Bryce Harper’s scuffles in AAA

Apr 20, 2012, 1:03 AM EDT

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Bryce Harper’s bat has been pretty quiet down at Class AAA Syracuse, as he is hitting just .232 with no home runs and one RBI in 14 games.

But Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo isn’t worried, telling CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman that Harper, one of the top prospects in baseball, is progressing just fine.

Rizzo insists that Harper has a good approach at the plate and is hitting the ball hard, even if the results haven’t been there.

“I think it’s an adjustment period for him,” Rizzo said before Thursday’s game against the Astros. “It’s a different kind of pitching than he’s ever had in the minor leagues. You’ve got some hard-throwing prospects, and you also have some veteran, AAA/AAAA type of pitchers that can really pitch and command their stuff. They’re not the blazing fastballs, but they try to get you out different ways.”

Rizzo also said that Harper’s conversion to center field is progressing as planned, despite a pair of errors at the position so far. “He’s taken good routes. His throwing is really improved.”

With all the hype around Harper, it’s easy to forget that he is only 19 and in his second season in professional baseball. The fact that he’s playing on the AAA level is impressive enough, and his track record suggests that he will adjust to the new challenge in time.

As Zuckerman points out, the Nationals can keep Harper from reaching free agency until after the 2018 season if they wait one more week to call him up. But it seems likely they will wait much longer to give him his first taste of the major leagues.

The 10-4 Nats currently reside in first place in the NL East on the strength of a pitching staff that is allowing just over three runs per game.

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  1. beefytrout - Apr 20, 2012 at 1:14 AM

    Kind of a misleading headline… it makes it sound like he’s getting into fights.

    • verytalldad - Apr 20, 2012 at 1:22 AM

      I agree with misleading headline.

      He has had his brash moments in the past, but he isnt fighting or blowing kisses this year.

      Scuffle means fighting or brawling. He just struggling.

      • Bob Harkins - Apr 20, 2012 at 1:27 AM

        You hear it used in baseball frequently to mean “slump.” And that’s how I meant it. No attempt to mislead. http://www.doubletongued.org/index.php/dictionary/scuffle/

    • brewcrewfan54 - Apr 20, 2012 at 2:34 AM

      Not true. Scuffling is a word that has been used to describe many players having a hard time getting their numbers together. That being said, wouldnt surprise me if hardballtalk writers used it as a misleading headline to be assholes. They’re getting good at that. Makes them very ESPN-like.

    • aceshigh11 - Apr 20, 2012 at 8:04 AM

      Yeah, that’s what I was expecting the headline to be.

  2. chasemutley - Apr 20, 2012 at 1:43 AM

    Intent or not, I want the last two minutes of my life back….

    • jrd8523 - Apr 20, 2012 at 8:39 AM

      Taking the time to type that out makes me think you have more free time than suggested.

  3. brewcrewfan54 - Apr 20, 2012 at 2:37 AM

    While we’re at it though , he’s gonna be good but deserves the criticism that comes with his current batting average.

    • deadeyedesign23 - Apr 20, 2012 at 9:03 AM

      I wouldn’t worry considering it’s only been a few weeks. I’d say the same thing to Angels fans who are losing their mind about Pujols’ 0 homeruns so far.

  4. jyoung1891 - Apr 20, 2012 at 6:29 AM

    Harper has started off slowly at every level he has played since turning pro. Once he has settled in, he has done well. It doesn’t mean that it will necessarily happen again, but that’s his history.

  5. therealtrenches - Apr 20, 2012 at 7:46 AM

    The word’s primary meaning and most common use is fighting. That coupled with the kid’s contentious reputation probably suggested to many readers that the kid has been getting into fights.

    Rather than citing a handful of obscure uses of the secondary meaning, why not just acknowledge that you could see why readers would feel misled?

  6. Jonny 5 - Apr 20, 2012 at 8:27 AM

    This kid is well past where most 19 year old ball players are playing so I’d say say he’s excelling actually.

    Bob, you are such a horrible person for using the word “scuffles”. You should be ashamed of yourself!

    Really people? You’re going to stoop to picking apart a single word in a title? Really? It’s amazing to me the lengths people will go to, to complain about something, or anything.

    • Alex K - Apr 20, 2012 at 8:47 AM

      Were you confused by this headline, J5? I wasn’t. Are we the only two people that got it?

      • bravojawja - Apr 20, 2012 at 9:10 AM

        I believe the preferred term here at HBT is “fisticuffsmanship” or some such. Then again, I usually see “scuffling” rather than “scuffles” to refer to a player having a tough stretch.

      • Jonny 5 - Apr 20, 2012 at 9:32 AM

        Not really Alex. And if I were, clicking on the post would quickly clear it all up anyway with no harm, no foul. Nothing but 30 seconds of my time would be expended figuring it all out. 30 seconds that would have been spent reading on the internet anyway. The horror!

    • koufaxmitzvah - Apr 20, 2012 at 9:55 AM

      SCUFFLE! SCUFFLE! SCUFFLE!

    • beefytrout - Apr 20, 2012 at 10:29 AM

      “It’s amazing to me the lengths people will go to, to complain about something, or anything.”

      Your post is a perfect example of that. Meta.

      • Jonny 5 - Apr 20, 2012 at 10:51 AM

        I’m not complaining. I’m expressing my amazement, people complaining about free content on the internet simply because you don’t like the use of a certain word. It’s PETTY.

  7. bob72745 - Apr 20, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    The Nats had better start worrying!!! It’s very simple: Harper is overrated, overhyped! When he finally makes the majors, at best he’ll be about a .260 hitter with about 18 HRs a year in the long run … not the kind of numbers that a No. 1 draft pick should put up.

  8. 18thstreet - Apr 20, 2012 at 11:22 AM

    I don’t think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason. That’s the problem.

    • jimbo1949 - Apr 20, 2012 at 3:02 PM

      Thank you, Booby V

  9. bob72745 - Apr 27, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    Harper is NOT a phenom … after 20 games, hitting .250, 1 HR, 3 RBIs!!! If that’s what Nats fans consider a phenom, they can have him!!! He won’t be a bust, but will be very mediocre when he finally plays in the bigs. I’ve seen the kid play ever since he was 13 years old, and he’s totally overrated … not his fault, but he’ll never be what people expect him to be.

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