Top pick Harper fine with full-time shift to RF
WASHINGTON – Bryce Harper is more than fine with the Washington Nationals making him a full-time right fielder.
“I’m pretty stoked about that,” Harper said on a conference call Tuesday. “Whatever the team wants, whatever it needs, it’s up to the team.”
The Nationals took the 17-year-old Harper with the overall No. 1 pick in the draft Monday night. He played catcher and other positions in his one season at the College of Southern Nevada, and the Nationals want him to develop without the toll it takes to play behind the plate.
Harper and his family have retained big-time Scott Boras, who’s known for long and sometimes difficult negotiations. The Nationals have lots of experience with Boras, who represented Stephen Strasburg, last year’s top draft pick.
Strasburg didn’t agree to terms with Washington last year until minutes before the deadline to sign. He was set to make his major league debut Tuesday night against Pittsburgh.
“Right now, I’m just letting the business take its course with Boras and all this negotiation stuff,” Harper said. “Whatever happens, happens.”
Harper hit .443 with 31 homers and 98 RBIs this season in a wood bat league. He skipped his final two years of high school and got his GED, making him eligible for the draft.
Boras held court on the field at Nationals Park before Tuesday’s game, but wouldn’t discuss negotiations with Harper.
“There are few high school players in the draft history since 1965 that have the extraordinary tool of power,” Boras said. “When it’s evidenced, it’s rare.”
While Boras and the Nationals talk, Harper said, he wouldn’t mind some down time.
“I’m trying to relax, hang out and have fun with the family,” Harper said. “Go do some fishing.”
Harper said he hadn’t made plans to watch Strasburg’s first game.
“I might be on a plane,” he said, declining to say where he was heading. He hasn’t met Strasburg yet.
Whenever and wherever Harper begins his pro career, the Nationals insist he plays without his trademark eyeblack. He’s OK with that, too.
“That’s totally fine,” he said. “You’ve got to live with it and play without it, I guess.”
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