Zuckerman breaks down 2014 Hall of Famers (VIDEO)
Bryce Harper was recently voted as the 'Face of the Nationals' by fans in a poll conducted by MLB Network, giving him a chance to call in for an interview and talk about his offseason. Harper, calling after a 5 a.m. weight lifting workout, chatted with Harold Reynolds and Billy Ripken for over eight minutes, discussing a variety of topics.
During the interview Harper's recent comments about gaining weight were brought up. He said late in the 2013 season (as we noted in our story) he wanted to get 'big as a house' to The Washington Post, and added to ESPN a specific goal of 245 pounds. Harper isn't quite there yet, but does currently weigh 235. That's exactly what he was last year this time, he says.
"It was kind of crazy that everyone was going berserk about my weight," he said. "I was 235 coming in last year and it's not sloppy weight. I'm not fat, I look pretty good. I don't want to say that, but I'm not gonna lie. It's not like I'm out eating McDonalds and Del Taco every night. I eat good. My mom fixes dinner every single night."
Gaining weight, as we explained, does invoke concerns about his surgically repaired left knee, how it will react with all the extra pounds. Harper had his knee operated on in October to repair a bursa sac, and he revealed to MLB Network the injury was much worse than first expected. Dr. Richard Steadman performed the surgery and found some surprises when he got in there.
"It was a lot worse than many people thought," Harper said. "He went in and really saw that it was pretty bad. He fixed it and I've been feeling great. I'm pain-free when I hit and that's the biggest thing. I'm pain-free when I run, ride the bike. It's a lot of fun to be able to play and hit pain-free."
Harper said he has physical therapy on his knee three times a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Steadman left about 90 percent of his bursa sac in there after repairing it and so far, so good for Harper.
"My knee is feeling pretty good," he said.
Harper is training physically, but he also hopes to prevent similar injuries in the future by playing smarter. Harper says 2013 was affected significantly by the pain in his knee and it taught him a valuable lesson.
"I was hurting right after I got done with hitting the wall in Dodger Stadium. I pretty much played hurt through the rest of the year. My team needed me and I needed to be in the lineup every day," he said.
"I want to be in the lineup every day, I want to play 162 games. If I didn't hit the wall I think I would have done that. I had a lot of lingering injuries after hitting my knee and trying to overcompensate for that. That kind of hurt me."
Harper hopes to avoid running into walls, but doesn't want that concern to affect the way he plays the game.
"It'd be nice not to run into a wall again, that's something I don't like doing. But I'm going to play the game hard like I always do and see what happens."
You can watch the full video of Harper's interview right here: