(Paul Sancya/AP)

In 2011, Harper bunted in his first official minor league game at Hagerstown. (“Put away your tape measures, boys,” Dave Sheinin wrote.) This year, Harper bunted in the Nationals’ first spring training game. In his third game in Harrisburg, he dropped a sacrifice bunt.

Harper appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated at 16 because he can pulverize baseballs, not gently tap them down the line. But he’s also got wheels and likes to show them off. The Nationals have not at all discouraged Harper from bunting. Wednesday night, one of the games General Manager Mike Rizzo watched Harper play, Harper tried to bunt for a hit (and after he got thrown out, it was credited as a sacrifice).

“He’s a creative player,” Nationals Director of Player Development Doug Harris said. “If he sees the third baseman playing back, he can keep him honest.”