The ball was hit at just the right trajectory to cause problems. It should have been a standard F8 settled under early and caught with relative ease in left-center field, but it was hit at just the right trajectory. The centerfielder raced to his right and Harper raced to his left. The centerfield held out his hand as a sign that Harper should stop as he settled to where the ball should soon come to rest in his glove, but the ball hung up, and then the sun played its first trick. The centerfielder threw his hands in the air giving the universal sign for, “I lost it.” Harper started to come in for the ball, but soon the centerfielder recovered and relocated the ball and called Harper off again. As soon as the centerfielder resettled he again threw his hands in the air and Harper ran in for the ball. By this time it was too late to settle under it for the routine catch and Harper stabbed at it like a line drive. The ball nicked off his glove and fell harmfully to the ground as the batter raced around first on his way to second.
Roaming the outfield is not Bryce Harper’s natural habitat. Harper still has trouble reading the ball off the bat and sometimes ends up taking bad routes on balls. The missed catch with the sun playing tricks wasn’t Harper’s only missed catch in the three games I watched him play. When someone sees Harper on the baseball field they are seeing him where he belongs. He has the work ethic and the dedication to learn the outfield. It is hard to miss Harper’s big truck in the players’ parking lot, and it is always one of the first vehicles parked. He is committed to making himself the best baseball player he can be, and if learning the outfield is the last step before the majors then Harper is going to learn the outfield.