CINCINNATI -- Bryce Harper's play for Washington since being called up from Triple-A Syracuse on April 28 has caused a stir around the Major Leagues. The stir reached the banks of the Ohio River on Friday afternoon, as he met with media before the start of the Nationals' first of three games against Cincinnati at Great American Ball Park.
Cameras, microphones and bodies surrounded Harper as the 19-year-old sat atop the bench in the Washington dugout. He politely answered questions -- "How have you been received in the clubhouse?" ... "Do you ask a lot of questions of the veterans?" -- for a few minutes before heading back to prepare to face Reds right-hander Mike Leake.
"I keep to myself pretty much, try not to say much, and just play the game of baseball and not worry about anything around me," said Harper. "But when guys come up to me and talk to me, that's when I take it in the most. I let them come to me and tell me what I need to do."
Harper reached base safely in 10 of his first 11 games in the big leagues and entered Friday hitting .263. He was just 2-for-12 through the first three games of this current six-game road trip, but that isn't much of a concern for manager Davey Johnson.
"He's had a lot of attention thrown at him, and he's handled it great," said Johnson. "He hasn't changed his game. He's very aggressive and loves to play the game. He doesn't get cheated at home plate. He'll crash into walls or fall down, do whatever he has to do to make a play."
Harper has been a magnet for attention since before the Nationals drafted him No. 1 overall in two years ago. On the road, that means a lot of boos.
"I love getting booed. I do. I really do," said Harper. "At home, it's good to hear the cheers, but I think that it gets me going a little too much. The adrenaline comes in and you want to do so well for your fans. When I'm on the road and I get booed, it puts me in a mellow stage."