Bryce Harper made a quick return to action after undergoing Tommy John surgery this offseason.
The Phillies slugger got back just in time to play against Masataka Yoshida, the Japanese outfielder who has long looked up to the two-time MVP.
Harper joined WEEI’s Rob Bradford on the Audacy Original Podcast “Baseball Isn’t Boring” and explained what it feels like to be such a huge role model and how he carries himself as someone that younger players look up to.
“You try to carry yourself a certain way or you try to play a certain way or act a certain way so they do have somebody good to look up to, whatever that may be,” Harper said (26:30 in player above). “I think just being able to do that and be that guy for somebody is really cool and I look forward to that opportunity not just now, but for a long period of time.”
Harper was heralded as one of the next faces of baseball from the time he was a teenager. He’s one of those rare young phenoms that has been able to live up to the hype, and now he’s giving younger players someone to look up to.
One of those players is Yoshida, who was a terrific player in Japan and is off to a great start in Boston. The two got to meet this weekend and Harper had nothing but good things to say about the Japanese outfielder.
“It’s really cool. He’s a great player in his own right. He had an amazing career over in Japan and that’s why he’s over here now. He’s having a great year to start off his career here,” he said. “He’s an exciting player that can really hit the baseball for power, for average, doubles, triples, homers, everything.
“I always wish people the best in being able to be great at what they do and it’s exciting when players can come over here and do that. I think for him to be able to do that in that market, too, that’s always hard. For him to sign there and do what he’s doing now, it’s pretty incredible.”
After a bit of a slow start, Yoshida is now up to a .321 batting average with six home runs and 24 runs batted in through 29 games. His .939 OPS ranks 12th in all of baseball.
Perhaps Yoshida can follow in Harper’s footsteps by winning the Rookie of the Year Award as Bryce did in 2012. He is currently the betting favorite at +225.