Harper, an elite prospect who plays for Class A Hagerstown (Md.) in the Washington Nationals organization, went into a protracted home-run trot in the sixth inning Monday night that featured him blowing a kiss to Greensboro pitcher Zachary Neal just before touching home plate.
Aw, c'mon, Bryce. That's not how they do it at Nationals Park, or anywhere else in the majors. Plus, it's a good way to get thrown at.
What prompted such punky puckering? It shouldn't matter, but Harper was hit by a pitch on the inside of his left knee and had to leave the game the day before. He might have been angry about getting hit. The incident with Neal was barely mentioned in this game story.
Harper's initial response — taking the pitcher deep for his South Atlantic League-leading 14th homer — was what ballplayers do. But taking forever to admire the home run was bad. And the stare-down of Neal, followed by the juvenile kissyface, was weakest of all.
Though he acted respectfully at Nats camp during spring training when the Stew visited Florida — others have warned of an immature streak in Harper that would be uncool for anyone regardless of his or her age. It has appeared.