Harper launches fifth Opening Day homer

Nats' slugger is MLB's active leader, youngest to reach 5

Harper launches fifth Opening Day homer

WASHINGTON -- It is what is seemingly becoming an annual tradition, Bryce Harper launched another Opening Day home run, a solo shot in the sixth inning of Monday afternoon's 4-2 win against the Marlins at Nationals Park.

Harper has one homer in each of the last three season openers and two in the first game of the 2013 season. With five home runs on Opening Day, Harper is the Major Leagues' active leader, and at 24, he is the youngest player in history to reach that number, ahead of Gary Carter's four and Mickey Mantle, Dean Palmer and Corey Patterson, each with three.

Harper is used to the spotlight and enjoys playing on baseball's biggest stages. So the sold out and often raucous crowds for the season opener, including the 42,744 at Nationals Park on Monday, are a perfect setting for him.

Harper adds to Opening Day magic

"It's fun being able to come into Nats Park and try to win ballgames for us and do the things we can as a team to make those fans happy out there," Harper said. "Playing in front of my family and my wife and everybody that comes out and supports me, it's a lot of fun. I enjoy it."

Harper's homer Monday, off Marlins righty David Phelps, had an exit velocity of 107 mph, according to Statcast™. It was the Nationals' first home run of the season and came after Harper led the Grapefruit League with eight during Spring Training, all encouraging signs as he tries to rebound from a disappointing 2016 season.

"He was a guy that was locked in first in Spring Training," manager Dusty Baker said. "I had to slow him down a little bit so he wouldn't get stale. People were wondering, should he save some? And I said, no man, you have to perfect that."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.