Adjustments have keyed Harper's hot stretch

Adjustments have keyed Harper's hot stretch

Adjustments have keyed Harper's hot stretch
ATLANTA -- Bryce Harper homered again Friday night, launching a first-pitch curveball from a seemingly unbeatable pitcher, Kris Medlen, into the left-field stands. His 19th home run of the year came amid a torrid stretch for the 19-year-old rookie, one that's seen him post a .340/.402/.711 batting line dating back to Aug. 17.

Harper, for his part, isn't getting too amped up about how he's feeling at the plate.

"I don't know. I think I'm just trying to get some pitches, trying to swing and then just put something in play," Harper said Friday. "That's all I can do. Just going up there trying to have good ABs."

Nationals manager Davey Johnson, meanwhile, said Harper has made all the necessary adjustments following a month-long slump during which he hit .171/.257/.244.

"Just being able to control his overaggressiveness and make adjustments a little bit. He's probably never had to make adjustments," Johnson said. "But here, everybody since Day 1 has been respecting his ability and tried everything. ... They've tried to pitch him harder than anybody.

"He hit them good early, then he went overaggressive chasing them."

Johnson said Harper expanded his zone during that slump, and his overly aggressive nature and desire to get back on track probably caused him to chase more pitches than he should have. On top of all that, pitchers were making it a priority to get him out. The biggest difference Johnson has noticed -- and he says it's the mark of a great hitter -- is that Harper now has a better idea of how pitchers are going to attack him.

"He's been very patient in not chasing out of the zone. A lot better," Johnson said. "That's when he went in that month-long slump, but he kept fighting it because he wanted to make something happen. Then he learned, OK, get a good pitch, get something to drive. He can hit anything."