AKRON, Ohio — Considering Bryce Harper needs a fully functioning left thumb to generate mighty swings of his bat, it’s safe to say the Nationals outfielder is ready to rejoin his teammates in the major leagues. Like, right now.
On Thursday and Friday combined, Harper had gone 2 for 5 with three walks, two RBI and two stolen bases in his first two games with Class AA Harrisburg. Saturday, Harper added the part of his game that had been missing since he homered in one of two games with Class A Potomac — the power. Lots of power.
After Harper hit into a double play in his first plate appearance as the Senators’ designated hitter Saturday at Canal Park, he made up for lost time by blasting a trio of home runs — one to each part of the field to account for five runs in the Senators’ 10-4 victory over the host Akron RubberDucks, an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.
Akron starting pitcher Duke von Schamann was Harper’s victim twice, beginning with a two-out solo home run in the third inning. The blast came on the right-hander’s first offering — a pitch Harper deposited an estimated 400 feet into the visitor’s bullpen to increase the Senators lead to 2-0.
In his next at-bat in the fifth, Harper took von Schamann’s 2-2 pitch the other way for a softer solo shot over the left field wall.
In the seventh inning, Harper smacked a single into left field against reliever Toru Murata. But he was quickly caught stealing on a throw by catcher Tony Wolters when he started for second but turned around to scamper back and was easily tagged out by shortstop Erick Gonzalez.
But Harper apparently was just warming up for his final blast of the night — a mammoth three-run shot of 400-plus feet against Murata, a shot to straightaway center field.
“The first home run was on a 2-0 pitch, and I knew he got it good,” Harrisburg Manager Brian Daubach said. “But the next at-bat, he saw a lot of pitches and you could see him getting locked in. The last at-bat the same thing — he fought off a few to get to a 3-2 count and [Murata] threw a fastball up and away. That’s the kind of power Bryce has — he can do a lot of damage.”