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Contacts lead to more contact for Harper

April 28, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com
  • Hagerstown outfielder Bryce Harper leads the Suns in home runs (five) and RBIs (18) this year.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

Bryce Harper learned the hard way that you can’t hit what you can’t see.

Harper had been experiencing problems hitting consistently for the Hagerstown Suns. Now he sees why ... with 20-20 vision.

Harper, the top prospect in the Washington Nationals organization, admitted he had a little problem seeing the ball. On April 20 against Hickory, he began making contact because he started wearing contacts.

“I was told my vision was really bad,” said Harper, who hit his first Municipal Stadium home run in his first at-bat April 21 against Hickory. “I’m seeing the ball well. I’m seeing the spin and I’m seeing the strings really well. My vision is now in HD.”

Harper has known about his vision problems for awhile, but had problems dealing with wearing contacts.

“I wore them in high school,” he said. “I got headaches when I wore them and I didn’t use them. Then when I got here and started playing every day, I started to notice I might need them more.”

The change of sight has brought back the explosiveness that made him the easy choice to be the top selection by the Nationals and in the 2010 baseball amateur draft.

Through Thursday’s games at West Virginia, Harper is batting .323 with team highs in home runs (five) and RBIs (18) to go along with five doubles.

Before he began wearing contacts last week, he was batting .235 with one home run, one double and seven RBIs.

Harper put up his best game as a professional in the Suns’ 17-1 victory on a cold, misty night last Friday. Harper went 3-for-3 with a home run, a double and six RBIs.

Tops on the list may be the fact that Harper is now more easily recognizing the borderline pitches, drawing more walks and striking out less.

“I felt good in there tonight. I still have a long way to go. I can’t sit on this game,” Harper said after Friday’s game. “I have to keep going.”

And getting to his inevitable destination in Washington will be a whole lot easier now that he can really see where he is going.

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