It was a mostly hype-free affair for Bryce Harper’s Class AAA debut, as Syracuse’s Alliance Bank Stadium was less than half-full for the 19-year-old’s first game with the Chiefs, and with only a small media contingent on hand.
And even as the Chiefs were losing, 7-4, to the visiting Rochester Red Wings, Harper gave the home fans a taste of what they will be getting for the next few weeks, or few months, or whatever the case may be. Harper went 2 for 4 with a double and a stolen base, showing a much better plate approach than he did toward the end of his stint in the Nationals’ big league spring training camp.
“I was a little out of whack in big league [camp],” Harper said. “I think the best thing for me was getting sent down to Triple-A and getting into that grind of playing every day and working in the cage and getting my routine back.
“When I was up there [with the Nationals], I tried to work as hard as I could every single day, but I was still trying to ... do way too much. Getting sent down made me calm down and stay within myself.”
Harper doubled in his first at-bat, battling back from an 0-2 count to flip a 2-2 off-speed pitch over the first baseman’s head. After singling in his second at-bat, he stole second with a head-first slide. After striking out in the sixth inning, he smashed a two-hopper at the second baseman in his fourth and final at-bat.