Bryce Harper could turn Washington Nationals' dreams to reality

The Washington Nationals introduce the newest member of the organization, the 17-year-old, hard-hitting slugger Bryce Harper.
By Thomas Boswell
Friday, August 27, 2010; 12:40 AM

Look directly at Bryce Harper. Watch his batting practice home run on Thursday as it lands in the third deck in Nationals Park. Watch him blast balls over the fence in every direction.

(You are getting drowsy.)

Check out Bryce's faux-Mohawk hairdo, his black-on-black three-piece suit with the velvet lapels and the magenta-on-black tie: "The ladies like it." (You are getting very sleepy.)

Do not look at Jordan Zimmermann in his first game back from elbow ligament replacement surgery. Do not watch Albert Pujols's 430-foot opposite field home run off him or five Cardinal runs in just four innings. (Your eyelids are feeling heavy. You can barely stay awake to watch the Nats play baseball at all.)

Listen to GM Mike Rizzo: "We are going to bring Bryce along quickly so he can maximize his impactability." (You are almost asleep now. You've forgotten the Nats are 20 games under .500 and haven't played good baseball in more than three months.)

Above all, do not think about Stephen Strasburg. Ignore the result of his forearm-elbow arthrogram that is due on Friday morning. Say slowly to yourself, "Strasburg will not require Tommy John surgery and miss 12 to 18 months." (You have almost lost consciousness.)

Relax, think only about Harper. Focus on his easy grin, his ebullient confidence and his strong parents who seem to ground him with a balance of discipline, high demands and love.

(You are asleep now. When you wake up, you will think it is April '12. Strasburg and Zimmermann will be healthy - at the same time. Catcher Wilson Ramos, second baseman Danny Espinosa, shortstop Ian Desmond and outfielder Roger Bernadina will join Harper and Ryan Zimmerman at a young team's core.)

The Nats themselves do not believe that their present is gruesome, only that their future is fascinating and that mass hypnosis is the best way to endure this 54-74 season.

The team's future "is not a dream," Nats President Stan Kasten said. "And it won't [arrive in] '12. It's next year."

We'll know very soon whether the Nats' notion of their '11 future is self-deluding hypnosis or realistic analysis. We'll know when we find out whether Strasburg is seriously hurt or just on the disabled list nursing a manageable pain in the forearm.

Breath deeply. If Strasburg's still whole, then September is a preface, perhaps even an engrossing one, for '11. If he's not. . . .

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