Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - I pitched my entire life and one of the strong pieces of advice that lingers came from a high school hitting coach.
Unfortunately, I cannot remember the gentlemen's full name and only the sound of coach Buck's raspy, Lucky Strike-induced voice telling us to "throw the hands" in the batter's box remains fresh.
Power from the mound is what I had. Power at the plate not so much.
Watching Washington Nationals stud outfielder Bryce Harper throw his meaty paws at pitches reminded me of the words of wisdom that never resonated with my attempt to improve at the plate.
Harper's been a star since birth and has cracked six home runs (12 RBI) in his last three games. He stroked three against Miami on Wednesday, added two more Friday versus Atlanta and smacked the game-winning two-run shot in Saturday's 8-6 verdict over the Braves at Nationals Park.
Fans have been treated to a nice show in DC and owe a standing ovation to the confident 22-year-old.
"He's the hottest player in the world right now," said Braves reliever Cody Martin, who surrendered Harper's game-winning blast. "He's putting good swings on everything, he's seeing the ball well, his balance is good. You can't really do any one thing to him that's going to get him out."
It seems the only options are to either walk or plunk Harper to avoid any kind of damage or embarrassment. He can hit pitches out of the zone or at his feet.
Harper's dialed in or in the zone as some athletes would say. The rim looked like a big bucket to NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan most of the time. A catcher's mitt was the only thing Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton could see when he's locked in.
The ball must appear the size of a beach ball to Harper. He's on an incredible run the likes of which baseball fans haven't seen too often. Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa knew how to win the crowd because they're entertainers.
Harper is captivating fans with his display of power and finesse, and his teammates are loving every moment. He's a darn good outfielder, too.
"It couldn't be happening to a better guy," Nats infielder Ian Desmond said. "He is doing really well, he is handling it well, he is carrying himself humbly. It's really fun to watch."
The Nationals hope Harper can save some home runs for the summer months because they're a favorite to represent the National League in the World Series. It's pretty clear Harper's going to "throw the hands" no matter what.
It's a marathon, not a race, in baseball. And Harper's wearing out the soles on his spikes with casual strolls around the bases.
"I'm working on everything," Harper said. "Not only being good offensively, trying to be the best right fielder in the game. Plain and simple. I want to play hard every single day. I want to make the play for my pitcher. If I'm helping them out, that's what I'm going to do."