Sports

Harper to ESPN: ‘I Want to Show My Respect for MLB & Everybody That Played Before Me’

by Chris Lingebach
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Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the first inning during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park on July 1, 2013 in Washington, DC.  (Credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the first inning during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park on July 1, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – It’s been three years since Washington drafted Bryce Harper, a 17-year-old who by every national media outlet’s estimation was just a cocky, soulless teenager unworthy of the fame bestowed upon him.

He’s come a long way.

In an interview with ESPN’s Sage Steele on Wednesday, Harper, now 20, represented both Washington, D.C. and his teammates admirably under the national spotlight, coming off as well-spoken, and most important, in stark contrast to his former image, remarkably humble.

“Being able to get drafted at seventeen was so much fun and just a dream come true,” Harper told Steele, when asked how much he’s grown on and off the field.

Harper took it up a notch when he was unsurprisingly compared to RGIII, and asked if he’s considered tailoring his style of play to stave off further injury.

“I’m going to give it all every single day I go out there,” Harper said. “I’m going to give it 120 percent no matter what – maybe not run into a wall 8-0, but I think going and playing, and playing hard, and dong things the right way out on the field, I don’t want to look in the mirror at the end of the day and say ‘Hey, I didn’t work hard’ or ‘I didn’t bust my butt today.’ I want to work hard every single day, and I want to show my respect for Major League baseball and everybody that played before me.”

Then he gave some national shine to some of his Nationals teammates.

“I’ve had a great team and unbelievable players that have really taken me under their wing,” Harper said. “Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond – three guys that have really taught me to not take this game for granted, play it hard every day no matter what, and be smart when you play.”

Play 120%. Respect the game and everyone who played it. Give credit to teammates for keeping him grounded.

Hardly sounds like the guy who told Sports Illustrated he wants to “be in the Hall of Fame, definitely” or “be considered the greatest player who ever lived.”

As for playing “in the pinstripes” well, there’s still time for the Nats to make uniform adjustments.

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