Harper embraces challenge of playing in Philly

Harper embraces challenge of playing in Philly

Harper embraces challenge of playing in Philly
PHILADELPHIA -- The storyline coming into Monday's game between the Nationals and Phillies revolved around the reception rookie phenom Bryce Harper would receive from the notorious Philadelphia fans, especially after the incident at Nationals Park on May 6 in which Phillies starter Cole Hamels nailed him with a fastball. The left-hander later admitted he hit Harper on purpose and was suspended for five games.

Harper said he wasn't even thinking about that, but many in the sellout crowd apparently were. He was booed each time he came to the plate, but took it all in stride. He even pointed out that he's played against Phillies farm teams during his quick trip through the Minors.

"[Their fans] boo at every level," he said with a laugh.

In fact, the 19-year-old rookie insisted Philadelphia is one of the cities he had been looking forward to playing in.

"You're playing in a place where Mike Schmidt and guys like that played," Harper said before the game. "It's going to be a lot of fun in here. They have a great fan base, and we're going to come in here and try to prove some people wrong.

"Philly has always had a great history in all their sports. Tommy McDonald with the Eagles, [Julius Erving] with the NBA -- you have so much history in this sport and so much history in all the other sports in this place, so it's going to be a lot of fun playing here."

Harper singled his first two times up against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick. In the fourth inning, he also stole second and scored on Ian Desmond's RBI single.