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Harper handles heckler with aplomb
Last year's top pick doubles twice, plates two in Nats' rally
03/07/2011 11:54 PM ET
Bryce Harper collected two doubles and two RBIs in the eighth inning Monday.
Bryce Harper collected two doubles and two RBIs in the eighth inning Monday. (David J. Phillip/AP)
Bryce Harper dealt with a heckler in the best way possible Monday -- by producing at the plate.

Harper doubled twice and drove in a pair of runs and fellow Nationals prospect Danny Espinosa had three RBIs as Washington rallied for nine runs in the eighth inning for a 14-9 Spring Training win over Houston on Monday at Space Coast Stadium.

Harper, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 Draft, came on as a defensive replacement in right field in the sixth and hit a pair of doubles and scored twice in the eighth. The second two-bagger was a two-RBI liner to right that plated Matt Stairs and Alex Cora for a 13-8 lead.

As he stood in for the second time in the eighth, a fan reportedly yelled "Overrated, overrated."

"You can hear everything out there," Harper told MLB.com. "You can't really get into that. I've been hearing it since I was in high school, college. It doesn't get old because I love it. I love hearing it. I love people saying that stuff about me. I like all the bad stuff."

The 18-year-old outfielder is batting .308 with four RBIs this spring after seeing limited time with the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League last year. The Las Vegas native is expected to begin his first full season at Class A Hagerstown, although he's spoken about his intent to make the big league club out of camp this month.

"It's always going to be hard," Harper told MLB.com about facing opposing pitchers. "I think it was Ted Williams who said, 'I hate hitting in All-Star Games and against rookies.' He had never seen them before. So going up there and seeing guys you have never seen before, especially relievers and closers, they are going to come at you with sliders, knuckleballs, split fingers, everything they have in their kitchen sink."

Espinosa, a switch-hitting second baseman out of Long Beach State, was the Nats' third-round pick in 2008. The 23-year-old, hitting .368 in Spring Training, is expected to see significant time in Washington's infield this season.

Catching prospect Derek Norris also got an at-bat but struck out, dropping his average this spring to .400.

"He really looks good at the plate. His catching is coming along," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman told MLB.com. "We really think he is going to be a big league catcher.

Jiovanni Mier, Houston's first-round pick in 2009, finished 2-for-2 with an RBI double in the ninth. First baseman Koby Clemens, the son of former Astros pitcher Roger Clemens, struck out in his only at-bat.

Washington improved to 5-3, while Houston dropped to 2-8. Aneury Rodriguez is scheduled to make his first start of the spring for Houston on Tuesday and will be followed by fellow Rule 5 Draft pick Lance Pendleton.

Danny Wild is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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