In his first game back from the 2014 All-Star break, much was anew for Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper.
He had a new haircut that featured a mohawk in the back. He had a new saxophone-heavy walk-up song. And most notably, he debuted a brand new batting stance.
Instead of bending his knees, holding his hands above his chest and pointing his bat forward at a 45 degree angle, this time he was upright, standing tall with his bat aiming straight to the sky.
Some said it looked like Steve Lombardozzi's stance, some (me) saw some Ken Griffey, Jr. in it. Whatever it was, it worked.
Harper returned from the break to go 3-for-4 with a solo home run in the Nationals' 4-2 loss to the Brewers on Friday night. Though he didn't contribute to a win, there may be something in this new stance of his.
"I just tried to do something a little different. Felt good. Just relax a little bit," he said.
Harper plans to keep using the new stance, for now at least.
“I don’t know. I just felt really comfortable. That’s the main thing. I think going forward just trying to have some fun and just relax a little bit.”
Manager Matt Williams noted Harper's new stance after the loss.
“I think he’s stood up a touch more to get on top of the baseball. Lowered his hands a little bit, probably more direct to the ball. He worked on that over the break. Looked good up there tonight. Hit the ball hard tonight."
Harper's home run came in the bottom of the ninth with no outs as the Nationals were unable to complete a comeback against Francisco Rodriguez and the Brewers. It was his third home run of the season and gave him just his 12th RBI of the year.
Heading into Friday night Harper was just 6-for-40 in 12 games since returning from the disabled list on June 30. Harper and the Nationals hope a three-hit night will help him turn the corner.
"That’s a good sign," Williams said.