Remember that whole “Bryce Harper vs. Chipper Jones for the last spot on the National League All-Star team” thing?
Yeah, that won’t be happening.
Jones has been named to the All-Star team as an injury replacement for Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, removing him as a candidate for the Final Vote.
It’s a little uncertain what will happen now, but Harper clearly now has a better shot of earning that final NL roster spot for the Midsummer Classic. As of earlier today, he ranked third in voting behind Jones and Cardinals third baseman David Freese.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson might not be too thrilled about this latest development, however. He’s made it perfectly clear that he’d prefer Harper get some time to rest during the All-Star break instead of participating in the festivities out in Kansas City.
Asked today if he’d voted for Harper in the Final Vote, Johnson replied: “I go online for a lot of things, but not that.”
“I would like to see him get the time off,” Johnson added. “Because (center field) is a demanding position. And even every time I get a chance, I’ll move him to one of the corners to basically just rest his legs.”
Harper had said when the Final Vote candidates were first released that fans should vote for Jones over him, and he repeated that message before the game today. Now that Jones has been named an All-Star, however, that public stance can’t be used anymore.
It’s clear talking to Harper that while he’d appreciate being a part of the All-Star Game, he also would love the chance to go back to his home in Las Vegas for five days to spend time with his family and friends.
“I’m excited to go home, definitely,” Harper said. “I think if I don’t make the team, it’d be good for me to go home and get away from the world and just be Bryce, be normal. Just hang out with the family and get some home-cooked meals and hit with my Pop and just hang out.
“Of course I want to be (in Kansas City). I want to be at the All-Star Game, of course. But if it doesn’t work out, I’ve got hopefully 20 years of my career to get back there.”
Harper said some time away from the game wouldn’t benefit him as much physically as it would mentally. He’s battled a back injury the last month-plus but has also needed to get used to the grind of a major league season and all that comes with it.
“Physically, I think I’m good,” Harper said. “I feel good physically. Mentally, I think it’s always going to be a grind, but it’s something you’ve got to deal with.”