And in Harper's mind, and the opinion of the scouts that have seen him play since he was in Little League, that will be only the beginning.
- Bio | E-mail | Recent columns
- PHOTOS: Archives: Spring training photos
Biggest issue for Sox in spring training?
Here are 5 points of emphasis for Robin Ventura and the Sox this spring ... what's the most important?
Adam Dunn (1661 responses)
Robin Ventura's methods (531 responses)
Picking the right closer (224 responses)
Who will be the leadoff hitter? (126 responses)
Chris Sale's transition (208 responses)
2750 total responses
(Results not scientific)
This poll is closed to voting.
Biggest issue for Cubs in spring training?
Here are 5 areas the Cubs must improve upon ... but what's the most important one to fix?
Defense and league-high 134 errors (1542 responses)
Starting pitching (632 responses)
Closer situation (93 responses)
Replacing power hitters Pena, Ramirez (735 responses)
Clubhouse chemistry (271 responses)
3273 total responses
(Results not scientific)
This poll is closed to voting.
- Photos: Cubs at spring training
Chicago White Sox, 333 W 35th St, Chicago, IL 60616-3651, USA
Camelback Ranch, Phoenix, AZ, USA
Hohokam Stadium, 1235 N Center St, Mesa, AZ 85201, USA
1060 W Addison St, Chicago, IL 60613, USA
Patience is a difficult thing when you're 19 and have known only success. So Harper sees no reason why manager Davey Johnson can't make Jayson Werth the center fielder and award him right field, even if incumbent center fielder Roger Bernadina has been paying his dues for a decade.
Johnson has expressed open-mindedness about the teenage phenom, who played 134 games in his first pro season, ending with a 25-game tear through the Arizona Fall League. The Nationals are taking themselves seriously after trading for Gio Gonzalez and signing Edwin Jackson to a one-year contract. They believe they can shock the National League East with strong seasons from Ryan Zimmerman, Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg and catcher Wilson Ramos.
Can Harper do enough in spring training to be at Wrigley Field on April 5?
That's among the nine biggest reasons spring training matters. The others:
2. How will the Cardinals carry on without Tony La Russa, Albert Pujols and pitching coach Dave Duncan?
The World Series champions don't really get a proper chance to bask in the glory of Game 6 because of the offseason turnover among key pieces.
Mike Matheny, who never has managed, replaced La Russa, who won 2,728 regular-season games and earned three World Series rings. Lance Berkman moves from right field to first base as a stop-gap replacement for Pujols, with Carlos Beltran added to the lineup. Beltran, more than Berkman, signed on to bear a huge load.
3. Will the real Joe Mauer step up?
The Twins catcher, a three-time batting champ, is still more than a year away from his 30th birthday but has been revealed to have an old man's body the last couple of seasons. Manager Ron Gardenhire says that "if Mauer's there, he's our catcher,'' but added to MLB.com that "ad-libbing'' remains a possibility. Justin Morneau, a victim of concussion syndrome, is again 1A on the list of Twins' concerns.
Other teams are anxious to see how Adam Wainwright, Buster Posey, Jake Peavy, Jair Jurrjens, Ryan Howard, Carl Crawford, Grady Sizemore, Joba Chamberlain and Strasburg look as they return from recent injuries.
4. Were Cubans Yoenis Cespedes and Aroldis Chapman worth the hype (not to mention the combined $66.25 million)?
Cespedes, a power-hitting center fielder, was an inspired signing by the Athletics, giving their fans a player in his prime who should be fun to watch.
This is the third year of Chapman's six-year deal with the Reds, and he's getting a legitimate shot to start. His wildness remains a concern but he and newcomer Mat Latos could join a healthy Johnny Cueto to give Dusty Baker a 1-2-3 combination like Mark Prior, Kerry Wood and Carlos Zambrano, who he almost rode to the 2003 World Series.
5. Motivated and out of Chicago, will Zambrano make Ozzie Guillen look smart for recommending the Marlins trade for him?
The Cubs were right in getting rid of him -- even though they will pay him $16.45 million -- but Marlins president/baseball ops Larry Beinfest took a risk in sending Chris Volstad to the Cubs for him.
Guillen also must deal with any complications that arise in moving Hanley Ramirez to third base to accommodate Jose Reyes, though Ramirez assured fans this week he's OK with the move.
"Third base with the Marlins forever baby,'' Ramirez said via Twitter.
6. Is there life after .159 for Adam Dunn?
Guillen now is saying he knew on the first day of spring training that Dunn would struggle, which raises the question of why he couldn't help prevent Dunn's historically awful season at the plate.
The White Sox have a new manager (Robin Ventura) and a new hitting coach (Jeff Manto), and nothing would ease any apprehension they feel more than a bounce-back spring from Dunn.
Greg Walker, who was the Sox's hitting coach, has moved to the Braves, where Jason Heyward is his No. 1 student.
7. Can Jesus Montero catch?
There's not much doubt about his ability to hit (although he will miss the new Yankee Stadium) but the trade that cost the Mariners pitchers Michael Pineda and Jose Campos was based partially on GM/superscout Jack Zduriencik's belief Montero won't have to be a first baseman/DH. No player will have his defensive work scrutinized so closely.
8. On second thought, there is also this question -- can Miguel Cabrera play third base?
The Tigers' signing of Prince Fielder means Cabrera either moves across the infield or becomes a full-time DH. Manager Jim Leyland is sure Cabrera can handle the move -- a remarkable development considering Cabrera was facing binge-drinking questions this time last year.
9. Can Bobby Valentine work magic?
The question isn't whether the new Red Sox manager can keep fried chicken and video games out of the clubhouse but if he can pull a shortstop out of his hat. Mike Aviles and Nick Punto, who were judged to be lacking at the position while in the AL Central, are all that stands in the way of 21-year-old Jose Iglesias, who hit .235 in Triple-A last year.
10. Can the classy Omar Vizquel continue delaying his Hall of Fame election by winning jobs on the bench?
The most interesting non-roster invitee anywhere, he's competing with Mike McCoy and Luis Valbuena for the chance to back up Yunel Escobar. The Jays must hope shortstop-of-the-future Adeiny Hechavarria watches closely.