CINCINNATI — Bryce Harper, a highly-charged, hair-on-fire, heart-on-the-sleeve outfielder for the Washington Nationals, reminds more than a few people of the way Pete Rose played baseball.
Like Rose, Harper is the kind of guy who would run over his grandmother to score a run and believes it is within his inalienable rights never to make an out.
SO IT WASN’T SURPRISING recently when Rose said Harper is one of the All-Stars he wants most to meet. And Harper is ready to meet The Hit King.
“The only things I remember about him are seeing him sliding into third base with his helmet off and his hair going crazy and him running over the catcher (Ray Fosse) in the (1970) All-Star game,” said Harper. “Pete was a great player and I have nothing but respect for the way he played the game. It is a lot of fun to watch guys like him and George Brett.”
Of meeting Rose, Harper said, “I’d definitely love to say hello and tell him how much I enjoyed watching him play on old videos. He is definitely one of the guys I most respected the way they played.”
As somebody said, “Rose was an eight-track player and Harper is the same only he is on DVD.”
TODD FRAZIER WAS asked during an interview abhout what he thought about Rose and he said, “I love that guy, love the way he played the game. I love talking to him. Every time I talk to him I wish I had a pen and paper to write down everything he says.”
IT STILL ISN’T certain what role Rose will play during All-Star festivities, but most suspect he will be on the field to accept an award as the No. 1 vote-getter when fans voted for The Franchise Four (Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Barry Larkin).
SAID REDS MANAGER Bryan Price, a coach for the National League, “Pete is here and thank goodness he is here. In this area he is a treasure.”
The Reds have only two All-Stars, Frazier and Aroldis Chapman, and Price said, “Those are the right choices, the two guys who are the most deserving on our team, really deserve to be here. And how neat would it be to see Chapman come out of the bullpen in the ninth to save the game in front of his home crowd.
“How rare is Chapman? Maybe once in a generation? Has anybody ever thrown 105 miles an hour? Even if Chapman never does it again he can always say he did it. Who ever throws 105? Who throws nearly every pitch 100 miles an hour. What he does is special for fans,” Price said.
Frazier put Chapman into perspective by saying, “When the other team bunts, I’m afraid to charge the plate because a bunt off Chapman can be a line drive, that’s how hard he throws.”
LA CATCHER Yasmani Grandal, the Reds No. 1 draft pick in 2011, said he’d love to be in the game and catch Chapman to end the All-Star game.
Grandal remembers catching Chapman in spring training of 2011 and said, “I caught him in my first spring training game. Back then he was very wild and had trouble throwing strikes, but when he threw strikes nobody could hit him. And that’s the way he is right now, except he throw a lot more strikes.”
NATIONAL LEAGUE Manager Bruce Bochy on Frazier: “He has put up incredible numbers. He has a little different swing in that he can look bad on one swing and hit the same ball out on the next pitch. He is so strong. And he does a good job a third base. It will be nice to have him hit in the two-hole for us in the All-Star game. He is an incredible talent and he keeps getting better and better. There isn’t a park that is too big for him because he has plus-plus power.”
And Frazier boldly tells all what he wants to do in the All-Star game. “I want to show my power. I want to hit one out, or at least get a double. Or a hit. I got a walk last year but I’d like to hit one out in the game.”
THE PETE ROSE question was hot and heavy most of the day Monday and here is what Bochy, who has won the World Series three times in the last five years, had to say:
“It is all coming from MLB and I don’t know how involved he will be,” said Bochy. “I know Pete. I grew up a Reds fan, to be honest, a big fan of The Big Red Machine. I was here in Cincinnati and I know how popular he is here. We’ll welcome him because he is part of the city and the history of Cincinnati.”