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Posted at 07:02 PM ET, 06/08/2012

Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg ready for Fenway Park debuts


(Al Behrman - AP)
Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper will both grace Fenway Park for the first time tonight, and even the opposing manager considers that more of an honor for the park than pitcher.

“He’s like looking at a rainbow,” Bobby Valentine said of Strasburg. “You don’t miss it. It’s a rather beautiful sight. He gets that pitching thing very well.”

Harper stayed to his usual script when visiting a new city, citing the history of the place and the passionate fan base. But he again showed that he knows, and reveres, baseball history.

“Just to step in the same batter’s box Ted Williams did, that’s pretty amazing,” Harper said.

Harper has actually been to Fenway Park before. He went with his family in 2004, the season during which the Red Sox won their first World Series since 1918. If you want to feel old, Harper was 11 at the time.

“That was only about two years ago,” Harper said. “No, just kidding.”

Valentine has noticed what Harper has done at a young age, too.

“Following his ascent to the big leagues, I’ve been very impressed,” Valentine said. “When he left high school and went to junior college I was amazed. When he hit all those home runs I was even more amazed. Drafted No. 1 and said he’d get to the big leagues before you know it. This is an amazing, amazing young man.

“He does play very aggressively. He’ll run out of the box. Our outfielders know he’ll try and challenge you. He dives in the outfield and throws all the way to the base when he throws the ball. Interesting young man. They say he’s 19. It’s incredible. ... He’s doing more than holding his own.”

Valentine was also called up at 19 as a player, but he called himself a “token” call-up who was there only to pinch-run. He could not relate to Harper, who is having one of the best teenage seasons in baseball history.

“I don’t remember; I wish I could,” Valentine said of his first days in the majors. “They were the ’60s. They say you you’re not supposed to remember what happened in the ’60s or otherwise you didn’t live them.”

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By  |  07:02 PM ET, 06/08/2012

 
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