Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper has turned in over the past few days

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Remember last year, when Bryce Harper and the first-place Washington Nationals rolled into Wrigley Field to take on Joe Maddon’s first-place Chicago Cubs in a four-game May tilt that had all the makings of an National League Championship Series preview (though it actually wasn’t)? Chicago swept Washington, in large part because Maddon pitched around the 2015 MVP to the tune of 13 walks in the series, including a record-tying six free passes (three intentional) in the finale.

There is widespread agreement on one topic the day after a bench-clearing brawl that led to a six-game suspension for Giants reliever Hunter Strickland and a four-game ban for Washington slugger Bryce Harper.

The bad blood stems from a pair of home runs Harper hit off Strickland in the 2014 playoffs, when the Giants went on to capture their third World Series championship in five years. After the first homer, Strickland said he wasn’t afraid of Harper. After the second, Harper stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.

“Very happy,” Baker said when asked his reaction to Harper’s suspension being reduced. “I’m not happy that it was three, but three’s better than four. He’ll miss this game tonight, and then he’ll miss the first two days of the Oakland series, and hopefully, he’ll be ready to play on Sunday.”

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The bad blood between the two players stemmed from a pair of home runs that Harper hit off Strickland in the 2014 playoffs.

MLB chief baseball officer Joe Torre’s explanation of the disciplinary decisions indicated that Strickland intentionally hit “Harper with a pitch, inciting the bench-clearing incident and fighting,” while Harper’s suspension came “for charging the mound, throwing his helmet and fighting.”

With temps in the 40s and the wind chill well below that, it’s hardly baseball weather. Nevertheless, Bryce Harper stands in the batter’s box on the same Las Vegas High School diamond where he once dominated, the diamond that now bears his name. Cut after cut after cut, he spends upward of two hours focusing on the little things. Keeping the launch angle down. Getting to the inside pitch.

You don’t win MVP awards in April, but you can sure put some distance between yourself and the rest of the mlb jerseys cheap field with the kinds of performances Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper has turned in over the past few days.

Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will play in different cities over the next 20 months, for different teams, playing different positions in different leagues. But all the while, they will be competing against each other directly, just as if they were faced off in a one-on-one pickup game for positioning in the free-agent market of 2018.

Of course, as adept as Murphy is at hitting, he’s just as good, if not better, at deflecting attention and pretending that what he’s doing at the plate isn’t anything special. But a ridiculous 2015 postseason followed by a ridiculous 2016 regular season followed by a ridiculous start to the 2017 season would seem to indicate otherwise.

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After missing three games because of a groin injury, Harper returned to Washington’s lineup for the Beltway Series opener, and he went 2-for-3 with a home run, a walk and two RBIs in the Nats’ 6-4 loss. Given what happened last year, when Harper was a shell of his 2015 MVP self and reports surfaced that he was hampered by a neck injury for much of the season, his productive Monday was a shiny silver lining on an otherwise dull night. 

“With every player that you acquire, it’s a possibility that you may lose them in a specific time frame,” Rizzo told media members at the Gaylord. “So with Bryce Harper and every other player that has a contract expiring, you better make plans. It’s not just Bryce Harper. It’s everybody on the roster.”

In 2015, Harper became the youngest unanimous MVP ever after a season in which hit .330 with 42 home runs and led the majors in on-base and slugging percentage.

“That was just a huge situation,” Harper says. “And it’s like I was saying. You never know what you’re going to do. You have a whole country behind you. And being able to show an emotion in the playoffs … I mean, I have no idea what I would have done if I had hit that homer. I have no clue. So I enjoyed seeing it. And I think Major League Baseball enjoyed seeing it. They put it everywhere, so they must have.

“I think the union, they’ll take care of that and figure out what happens,” Harper said Wednesday. “I think the only person that I’m pretty upset that saw it was my mom. I told her, ‘Sorry.’ I texted her after the game. So I think those are certain things that just happen. You live and you learn. Nothing I can do.”

The brand, which has had Harper as an endorser for five years, will begin selling Harper’s first signature cleat, the Under Armour Harper One, in July. The company previously sold shirts with a phrase Harper filed to trademark — “That’s A Clown Question, Bro.” Harper abandoned his pursuit of that trademark in 2014.

Under Armour signed Harper in April 2011, 10 months after the Nationals made him the first overall pick in the Major League Baseball draft. At the time the brand signed him, he was playing on the team’s Class A affiliate. He made it to the big leagues a year later.

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