SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- All it took was one at-bat for Bryce Harper to feel at home in his new home.
Harper, the Las Vegas native who was the top pick by the Washington Nationals in the 2010 draft, lined a double down the right-field line in his first at-bat for the Syracuse Chiefs, finished 2-for-4 and stole a base in his Triple-A debut on a bone-chilling Thursday afternoon.
"You always get that nervous feeling, butterflies and whatnot," said the 19-year-old Harper, who had the Chiefs' only two hits through the first six innings of a 7-4 loss to Rochester. "But after that first pitch is thrown, all of that goes out the door.
"We were just trying to get a win today."
In his first at-bat, Harper fell behind 0-2 against right-hander P.J. Walters. Harper laced a double on a 2-2 pitch, easily beating the throw to second. He advanced to third on a long fly out, but was left stranded when Jhonatan Solano struck out.
In the bottom of the fourth, Harper lined the first pitch to right field for a single, stole second with a head-first slide on a close play, but again was stranded.
The lefty-swinging Harper came up with a runner on first and one out in the sixth of a 1-0 game, prompting the Red Wings to lift right-hander Jeff Manship in favor of lefty Tyler Robertson. Harper bunted and missed at the first pitch, then swung and missed at a changeup. He fouled off the next two pitches and struck out swinging on an off-speed delivery.
He grounded out hard to second in his final at-bat.
Still, it was a nice start after a tough spring for the power-hitting prospect.
"He did a nice job," Chiefs manager Tony Beasley said. "I'm sure he was nervous like everyone else. He did a nice job of staying in there and competing."
Harper has some familiar faces in the dugout to make the adjustment to the top rung of the minors easier. Perhaps the most important is his manager. Beasley, his boss at Double-A Harrisburg last summer, made the jump with him.
"There's a comfort zone there," Beasley said. "We built a relationship. We're able to communicate to one another and be frank with each other. ... He knows what I expect out of him. I think I know what he's going to give."
The message so far from Beasley has been a simple one.
"I told him not to think about the major league level, to focus on dominating the level of Triple A," he said. "That's where I want his mind to be. If I can keep him not thinking about D.C., then he'll play well here."
Harper signed a five-year, $9.9 million contract with the Nationals, a record for a non-pitcher signed out of the draft who had not become a free agent.
Last year, he played in 109 minor league games before a hamstring injury in August ended his season. He finished with a .297 average, 17 homers and 58 RBIs in 387 at-bats.