Bryce Harper looking to add weight before 2014 season

Mark Townsend
January 4, 2014

According to ESPN’s Anna McDonald, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has a slightly different New Year's resolution than most of us entering 2014.

Rather than taking off the weight gained over the holidays, Harper would like to keep his and continue adding to it over the six weeks. In fact, the 21-year-old all-star, who weighed in at 218 lbs at the end of the 2013 season, says his goal is to weigh somewhere between 240-245 lbs when spring training opens next month.

"I'm excited to take a month off, that's something I'm excited for, let the body rest," Bryce Harper said recently. "Let the body heal a little bit and get as big as a house. ... That's the biggest thing I try to do."

"I want to go into spring training about 240, 245," Harper added. “I'll lose about 20 pounds during the season."

According to Astros strength and conditioning coach Jake Beiting, Harper's approach is not uncommon for a younger player as he begins to understand and adjust to the rigors of a 162-game schedule. If Harper reaches his goal, he should be in a much better position to hold up over the course the season while maintaining his strength and production.

"The younger player, a lot of those guys are still so much younger and underdeveloped that they put on a lot of weight during the offseason, in a good way," Beiting said. "There are definitely guys that lose weight [during the season], particularly in September, you start to kind of back off the workouts a little bit and just eight months of playing baseball starts to catch up."

Of course, the immediate concern we’ll hear about is how much the added weight could affect his speed, flexibility and ability to play defense. There’s no doubt it will have some affect if he ends up 20-25 lbs over his final playing weight last season, but there could also be some benefit in that if Harper’s forced to slow down his game and take a smarter approach.

His aggressive style, more than anything else, has to be the Nationals biggest concern for his long-term health. If the added weight slows him down enough to make him think twice about crashing into outfield walls, the Nationals will definitely take it.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!