WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Following the 2011 minor league season, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout were teammates on the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League.
"There was a lot of hype," Trout said. "We were terrible."
The team finished in last place with a 14-22 record, but the individual performances of budding prospects Harper and Trout were notable. Harper hit .333 with a team-high six home runs in 93 at bats, while Trout batted .245 in 106 at bats with Scottsdale.
Other top prospects on that team included infielder Zach Walters, now a teammate of Harper's on the Washington Nationals, and Will Middlebrooks, who is now the third baseman for the Boston Red Sox.
Harper and Trout spent a lot of time together off the field that fall, playing video games, but also bonding as high-profile prospects.
Less than three years after that time in Arizona, Harper and Trout met for the first time during a regular-season MLB game April 21, when the Angels began a three-game series in Washington, D.C., against the Nationals.
Both players started in the outfield (Harper in left, Trout in center) and both hit in the No. 2 spot for their respective teams.
Before the game, both players addressed the media and diffused any one-on-one nature of MLB.
"It's two teams going at it, not just two guys," Harper said. "This is nine guys on the field trying to win a ballgame. I know everyone is pretty excited about it, but it's just another team, another team we are playing."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia agreed.
"This game is not Mike Trout against Bryce Harper," Scioscia said.
Trout pointed out that he and Harper wouldn't be facing each other directly during the series.
"It's not like he is a pitcher," Trout said. "He's an outfielder. You can't really compete against each other. We are both trying to get a hit."
And that is what they did April 21. Trout went 2-for-5, while Harper was 0-for-3 with a walk. The Angels scored four unearned runs in the eighth against Washington reliever Tyler Clippard to post a 4-2 comeback win against the Nationals.
Washington manager Matt Williams said having Harper and Trout on the same field was good for the game.
"The comparison is natural, I think," Williams said. "It is probably unfair to compare them both."
Williams and Trout both mentioned the competitive nature of Harper, whose average fell to .279 with the hitless outing against the Angels.
"Bryce wants to get a hit every time up, just like everyone else," Williams said. "He is as passionate about the game as anybody."
More than four hours before the April 21 game, in a nearly empty stadium, Trout and Harper chatted near the batting cage as the Angels got in some early work after a weekend series in Detroit.
Trout said the two would exchange text messages at times during the season. Both earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2012, and both have already been named to a pair of All-Star games. Harper will turn 22 in October, while Trout will be 23 in August.
"He plays the game hard, max effort all of the time, except the other day," Trout said, with a smile, about Harper.
Trout was referring to the Nationals' April 19 loss to the Cardinals, during which Williams took Harper was taken out of the game after he failed to run out a tapper back to the mound in the bottom of the sixth.
Trout said he had spoken to Harper about that incident.
"He was comfortable with [how it was handled], " Trout said.
As fate would have it, Harper was on deck when Denard Span struck out to end the game April 21. It was the second game in a row that Harper was in the on-deck circle when the game ended -- Span hit a walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Cardinals, 4-3, April 20.