A week ago today, General Manager Mike Rizzo announced the Nationals would summon Bryce Harper from the minor leagues with a caveat. He was not necessarily in the majors to stay, and this is not what the Nationals had planned.
“This wasn’t the coming out party for Bryce that we had in mind,” Rizzo said. “This wasn’t the development plan we had in mind.”
Just five games into his career, the notion of Harper returning to the minors already seems obsolete. Harper has gone 6 for 16 with four doubles, three of them smashed off a fence and one that drove in the game-winning run last night. He has made no fewer than three breath-taking throws from left field, and he has slammed his body into the center field fence at Dodger Stadium to make a catch. He has definitely been the most eye-catching, and perhaps the best, player on the field.
This afternoon at the National Press Club, Rizzo gave a speech and took questions – the first three of which were about Bryce Harper. Rizzo reiterated the idea that the Nationals were comfortable with sending Harper back to Class AAA Syracuse when they recalled him. But he also acknowledged the obvious.
“We’re not dumb, either,” Rizzo said. “This guy is performing admirably in the big leagues. We feel he’s got a chance to really impact the ball club. He’s a special talent. So you have to throw ordinary development curves out the window if you have to. You have to be able to be light on your feet and utilize the assets that you have. If he is performing the way he’s performing now, there’s no way in hell I can get Davey Johnson to get rid of him.”
In the interest of time, this is all I’m writing for now on Rizzo’s fun, informative speech and question-and-answer session at the Press Club. I’ll be posting a full story either later today, before the game, or tomorrow morning. Rizzo did a really nice job and shared some great stories and insight into how he approaches his job.