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Posted at 04:53 PM ET, 07/10/2011

Futures Game live-blog: The Bryce Harper show moves west

Update, 7 p.m. PST: Harper’s spirits were high after the game, as he shrugged off his 0-fer and joked that his epic throw from the left field corner was a naked attempt to get himself on “SportsCenter.”

“I don’t care what I did today, actually. I really don’t,” he said. “I could’ve went 4-for-4, and hallelujah. [Going] 0-for-4, hallelujah, too. I just wanted to go out there and play hard and have some fun.”

Regarding his fruitless night at the plate, he said, “You’re facing all-stars, and that’s what’s going to happen. I ... got blown away a little bit. I’ve got to hang with it and keep my chin up.”

Harper is hanging around Phoenix through Monday night — he is scheduled to do a live-chat with fans for Under Armour on Monday afternoon (3:30 p.m. Eastern time, at facebook.com/underarmour) — then plans to go home to Las Vegas for about 36 hours, before rejoining the Senators in Harrisburg on Wednesday.

Update, 5:26 p.m. PST: Bryce Harper’s fourth at-bat may have been his worst of the game, and he heard some boos (!) after striking out against right-hander Kelvin Herrera (Royals). Harper took a fastball for a called strike, then took a wild hack at a slider in the dirt to fall behind 0-2. After taking a couple of balls to even the count, he was blown away by a 97-mph heater. So, to recap, our phenom is 0-for-4 with a pair of K’s.

Update, 4:55 p.m. PST: Make it 0-for-3 for Bryce Harper at the plate, after he grounds out to first on a 2-0 fastball from right-hander Henderson Alvarez (Blue Jays) leading off the bottom of the sixth. This is undoubtedly the best collection of pitching Harper has faced in his life, as I don’t recall a fastball slower than 93 mph against him the entire game.

And by the way, the World team now leads, 4-3, after scoring four runs in the top of the sixth.

Update, 4:45 p.m. PST: Bryce Harper’s first oooh-worthy moment of the Futures Game came not from his bat, but from his arm, as he just uncorked an epic throw from the left field corner, only a few steps from the wall, to home plate on the fly. It was slightly off-line, and a little late to get the runner, but it still drew some appreciative gasps from the crowd. Of course, it also sailed over the cut-off man and allowed the batter to take third base. But it’s all about the show, right?

Update, 4:01 p.m. PST: Bryce Harper’s second at-bat lasted all of about four seconds. He offered at a first-pitch, 96-mph fastball from lefty James Paxton (Mariners) and rolled over it, grounding out to first base. Harper is 0-for-2 with a strikeout, and the U.S. leads the World team, 2-0, as we head to the fourth.

Update, 3:34 p.m. PST: A beautiful inning of work for Brad Peacock. He struck out Alfredo Silverio (Dodgers) on three fastballs, finishing him off with an up-and-in heater that Silverio couldn’t lay off of. He then coaxed a grounder to first from Chih-Hsien Chiang (Red Sox) on a first-pitch fastball. Finally, he showed all three of his pitches (fastball, knuckle-curve, change up) to Wilin Rosario (Rockies), getting him to pop up weakly to shortstop on a 2-2 change up. Peacock’s fastball sat at 93-94 mph during the inning, which will probably be his only inning of work.

Update, 3:27 p.m. PST: Bryce Harper doesn’t strike out looking too often, especially on a center-cut fastball, but he just did so in the bottom of the first inning against Atlanta Braves flamethrower Julio Teheran. It was a 95-mph fastball, one pitch after Harper swung through a change-up, and it froze him.

The U.S. team leads, 1-0, on a leadoff homer by second baseman Jason Kipnis (Indians), who crushed a 95-mph fastball over the wall in right.

And Brad Peacock is on to pitch the top of the second.

Update, 2:52 p.m. PST: As we await first pitch here, let me give you a quick update on Bryce Harper’s batting practice show. The longest of his homers went over the roughly 20-foot high fence in right-center field, above a sign reading 413 feet. A conservative estimate would put the homer at about 430 feet.

Original post: Greetings from Chase Field in Phoenix, where it’s 101 degrees outside (I’m told this is a cold snap), but where, thankfully, the roof will be closed for today’s Futures Game.

As we speak, Bryce Harper, the starting left fielder and No. 2 hitter for the U.S. team, is preparing to take batting practice. The other Nationals representative, right-hander Brad Peacock, has been told he is pitching the second inning. Also here, as a coach, is Tony Beasley, Harper and Peacock’s manager at Class AA Harrisburg.

(In the cage now, Harper appears to have foregone his usual routine of shooting a few balls to the opposite field in his first turn, and instead is swinging for the fences. The kid likes to put on a show.)

Harper seemed relaxed before the game, if perhaps a little weary of all the attention focused on him. Having only played three games at Harrisburg since his call-up from Class A Hagerstown on July 4, Harper has had a whirlwind week.

“It’s good to be able to get the call-up and refocus, get that fresh start,” he said.

After the Futures Game, Harper said he plans to go home to Las Vegas for a couple of days and rejoin the Senators in Harrisburg on Wednesday.

(And now, back in the cage, Harper just blasted a couple of balls out of the park.)

I’ll be live-blogging the Futures Game here, so check back for updates.

By  |  04:53 PM ET, 07/10/2011

 
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