The past week of spring training coverage produced headlines and words like these: “Bryce Harper got huge. Like, really huge,” and “Bryce Harper Is Looking Mighty Big,” and “Bryce Harper Is Looking Pretty Buff,” and “Bryce Harper looks, well, as big as a house,” and “Bryce Harper is in tremendous shape, thanks for asking,” and “Bryce Harper Is Jacked,” and “Bryce Harper Looks All Sorts of Jacked.”
Although I have to say, in this photo with Doug Flutie, Harper doesn’t look particularly freakish. Must be the baggy fit.
Anyhow, Internet headline writers aren’t the only ones who have noticed Harper’s size.
“You can definitely tell he worked out this offseason,” Denard Span told Chad Dukes on 106.7 The Fan. “We’ll see how he looks in a couple months — I’m pretty sure he’ll slim down. But, yeah, you definitely can tell that the ball’s jumping off his bat even more than it already had been in the past. Give him a couple months and he’ll be back down to probably 185 or whatever. Right now he’s about 240. He looks like Brian Urlacher out there playing left field. But as the season wears on, guys start to lose weight and muscle mass comes down.”
James Wagner had previously detailed Harper’s offseason routine, which included lots of weightlifting.
He loves weight lifting, he loses weight quickly (10-15 pounds last season) and knows he has a long nine-month, 162-game regular season ahead.
After the playoffs ended, Harper went home to his parents’ house in Las Vegas and took a month off. He started lifting again in mid-November. Harper set his alarm for 4:50 a.m. four times a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday), was up by 5 and drove to a training facility in Las Vegas by 5:30 to join a group of minor league and major league players.
Harper himself talked about his body shape at length during an appearance this week with Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier, also on 106.7 The Fan.
“I didn’t really have a lower body for two months,” Harper said, talking about his rehab from knee surgery. “It was like I was in a wheelchair trying to just do the upper body. So I’d go to the gym and only be able to work my upper body. I’d get bored during the day, go to the gym. That’s what I like to do, I like to lift. I work my ever-loving tail off in the gym. My workouts are very hard. I go to the gym night and day, two, three hours in the gym — and I really, really work hard. I really pride myself on going to the gym and working hard and doing it every single day and not taking a day off. That’s what I do, going there and working hard and getting ready for the season.
“I want to be ready when I get [to spring training],” Harper continued. “And then lifting during spring training also and putting on weight and things like that. Coming here I’m able to work my lower half finally, and that’s nice, being able to go in and work my lower half and get squats in and do the things that I need to do to get my lower half stronger. But like I said, the first two months of the offseason all I had was my upper body and that’s all I could do. So, I came in pretty big this year.”
He also talked with Paulsen and Rouhier about playing through his knee injury last spring.
“I’ll probably never do that again,” Harper said. “That really hurt me. I probably should have been done in April and just got the surgery done and been back for the last two months of the season, and went into the offseason strong and came back stronger than ever. But there’s nothing I can do about that. You don’t want to look in the past, you’re always living for right now. So coming in every single day, it’s nice to be able to know that I’m not in pain. I was blessed with a great surgeon that went in and did things the right way and saved half, three-quarters of my bursa. And it’s nice to be able to come in and just feel strong. I feel stronger than ever, and my body feels great, and I’m excited.”