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Bryce Harper on avoiding booze, bad food, partying, etc.: ‘My body is my temple’

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In an expansive and fascinating interview with The Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore, Washington Nationals superstar Bryce Harper cuts open a vein about never putting anything in his veins, among many, many, other things.

Harper, who arrived at spring training in phenomenal shape, discusses his views on abstaining from alcohol, his refusal to put bad things into his body, including Mountain Dew and energy drinks, his aversion to cortisone and PED’s, and his complete and utter dedication to the game of baseball and being the best player he can be.

Addressing his diet, Kilgore notes how Harper “sneaks Klondike Bars, Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes and Double Stuff Oreos” (don’t forget Girl Scout Cookies) from time to time, but generally refuses to consume energy drinks, as they are loaded with caffeine and sugar and “absolutely terrible for you.”

Harper cannot completely resist the lure of Mountain Dew, but insists he imbibes the soft drink only in the offseason and apparently will take one sip and throw the rest away.

Speaking of imbibing, the 21-year-old Harper claims to completely abstain from alcohol.

“Why even do it? Why put that in your body? Why even give anybody the [chance to say], ‘Oh, I saw him with a drink. He always says he never drinks.’ I always promised my family and my parents I would never do that.”

Harper attracted some attention early on in training camp when he was spotted wearing a shirt bearing a “PED FREE” message, even keeping it on for on-air interviews. He understands the gravity of making a choice to take PEDs and says that he would never use them, not only for himself, but to spare his family and organization any embarrassment.

“I never want to disgrace this organization or myself or my family’s name,” Harper continued. “I would never want to do that to my family or put this organization through that. I want to be a good person on and off the field. I think that’s part of it. I really want to have a possibility of going into the Hall of Fame one day. I think that’s huge with a lot of baseball writers and old school guys. Of course, that’s not the main goal — the main goal is winning a World Series. Hall of Fame is so far away. It’s just something I’ve always thought about doing. I want to be as clean as I can.”

Kilgore further writes that Harper’s aversion to putting anything unnatural into his body even applies to generally accepted drugs like cortisone.

Early on last season, Harper was suffering from bursitis in his left knee that took an even more painful, debilitating turn after famously crashing into the outfield wall during a game in May. To deal with the pain and discomfort, Harper, although resisting at first, received a cotisone injection. He did not like it and doesn’t plan on taking one ever again.

“I don’t think it really changed me,” Harper said. “I was still hurt. It gave me a boost for a week, where I felt, ‘Hey, I feel good.’ But then a couple days later, it was like, ‘Ack, this sucks.’ I’ll probably never do that again. I don’t like putting that stuff in my body. I don’t want to. I’m just not a big fan of it.”

As far as his diet is concerned, he avoids junk food, soft drinks, anything with excessive fat or sugar. He’ll drink black coffee every once in a while and off-brand sports drinks without sugar. Instead, he has created his own concoction featuring kale, cucumber, green apple and green tomato. When he wants a snack, he says he “crushes” avocado-and-cucumber sandwiches.

Why? Because his body is a temple, that’s why.

“My body is what I work with,” Harper said. “It’s not just sitting behind a desk and I have to use my hands all day. It’s my body. This is what I have to do every single day. I come in, and I have to feel good. If you’re going out and drinking and partying, you’re not going to feel good the next day. I want to get my eight hours and be able to eat good meals and not be sluggish or anything like that. My body is my temple, and I’ve always thought that.”

Him and me both.

Harper is one of the most compelling and arguably gifted young players in professional baseball. His talent is unquestionable, his dedication to his craft is evident and his confidence is unparallelled. Whether or not all those things will come together and Harper will realize his potential remains to be seen, although it wouldn’t make much sense to doubt him at this point.

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