Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 5/7/12

Since being called up from the minors a little over a week ago, Bryce Harper has proven to the National that he deserves to stay — at least for now. Harper has come up with clutch hits and made a few tremendous plays in the field, and he’s part of the reason Washington continues to win. Perhaps the problem for opponents has been that the 19-year-old is too comfortable. Cole Hamels tried to change that in the first inning on Sunday by drilling Harper in the back with a 93-mph fastball.

“I was trying to hit him,” Hamels admitted after his dominating performance. “I’m not going to deny it. I’m not trying to injure the guy. They’re probably not going to like me for it, but I’m not going to say I wasn’t trying to do it. I think they understood the message, and they threw it right back. That’s the way, and I respect it. They can say whatever they want.”

Hamels, who pitched eight innings and allowed just one run while striking out eight, said he did not intend to send a message to Harper nor was he trying to fire up his team. He also praised Harper’s athletic ability and potential.

“If I was getting swagger back for our side, I think I’d have to drill quite a few people because you’re in their home ballpark,” Hamels said. “It’s just, ‘Welcome to the big leagues.’ And I think he kind of did that for me.”

Some may even say the kid got even immediately. After being hit, Harper took advantage by showcasing his speed on the base paths. He went from first to third on a Jayson Werth single and then stole home on a Hamels pick-off attempt to first base. We know Harper is kind of a tool since he does things like this, but there’s no denying he’s an electric young talent.

Photo credit: Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE

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