Bryce Harper will be on the National League All-Star roster after all. Harper will replace Miami Marlins All-Star Giancarlo Stanton, who was forced to drop out following a knee injury that will require surgery. NL manager Tony La Russa hand-picked Harper following Stanton’s injury.
Harper is the fourth Nationals player named to the All-Star team, along with teammates Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg and Ian Desmond. However, Desmond was forced to pull out of the game Saturday with a sore left oblique.
After his effort today, Harper’s hitting .283 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs on the season. Manager Davey Johnson informed Harper immediately after the Nats’ 4-1 win over the Rockies today that he’d have to adjust his plans for the All-Star break.
“Told him the vacation’s over,” Johnson said. “So that’s a great honor for him.”
Harper had said over the last couple days that he was looking forward to getting to spend the break at home with his family, allowing him to enjoy a bit of a mental cool-down period. He won’t get that now, and clearly was disappointed about that aspect, but insisted he’s looking forward to the experience of playing in the Midsummer Classic.
“I don’t get to go home,” Harper said, when asked his reaction to the news he’d made the team. “No, I’m just excited to get there and just have a good time, try to enjoy it, take it all in and really just try to enjoy myself.
“Of course it’s all for the fans. It’s an exciting time for them. I’m just going to try to take it all in as much as I can, enjoy it as much as I can.”
Harper has been dealing with a sore back for much of his time in the major leagues, which is part of the reason why Johnson hoped his rookie outfielder wouldn’t end up on the All-Star team. But once La Russa made the decision to add Harper, Johnson knew his outfielder had to agree to head out to Kansas City to partake in the experience.
“It’s such a great honor,” Johnson said. “You can’t say no unless you need the rest, and he’s up for it.”
As for the concerns over Harper’s back, well, Johnson said he isn’t that worried anymore.
“He hasn’t been getting a whole lot of treatment the last three or four days,” Johnson said. “And he seems to be moving better. So I’m not that concerned about it.”
While pitchers Dwight Gooden and Bob Feller are the two youngest players to ever make the All-Star team, respectively, the 19-year-old Harper (who was born on October 16, 1992) will be the youngest position player to ever make the All-Star team.
“I didn’t really put any thought into that. But it’s pretty cool,” Harper said. “I think that’s a pretty cool deal. And I’m excited. I really am. I’m really excited to get out there and be around those kind of guys and just try to actually enjoy myself as much as I can and really take it all in. There’s going to be a lot of media and everything like that and autographs and things like that. So it’s just going to be another day. Just try to take it all in.”
Not only did Stanton’s injury create a void on the National League roster, it also creates one on the NL Home Run Derby squad. Harper was asked if he had heard anything about filling in for Stanton there, as well.
“I have no clue,” he said. “I don’t see that happening. I don’t know if I can take his spot. I think him being able to hit home runs like that is pretty impressive. So if I get a call from (Matt Kemp, NL Home Run Derby captain) - if it happens, it happens and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”