Harper’s All-Star experience “fun”; no word on promotion

SALISBURY, Md. - Bryce Harper went 0-for-2 with an RBI in his first professional All-Star Game, then proclaimed it a good experience.

“I had fun,” Harper said after his Northern Division squad lost 6-3 to the Southern Division in the Strike Out Hunger All-Star Game on Tuesday night at Perdue Stadium. “I went out there and swung hard, felt good at the plate. ... I felt great.”

The jammed left thumb that cost him the final two games of low Single-A Hagerstown’s first half didn’t present a problem, Harper said. Harper was pulled from the home run derby before the All-Star Game because of the injury.

Harper said he didn’t expect the thumb issue to be a season-long problem “if I don’t dive in the outfield again and get it hurt. ... It feels better than it was.”

With a postgame fireworks show raining loud booms and competing with the words spoken by the 2010 No. 1 overall pick in the First-Year Player Draft, Harper spoke softly when asked about the experiences over the All-Star break.

“It’s a blast, being around all the guys from your league and all that,” he said. “Anytime you can go out there and have some fun and hang out, it’s baseball. It’s fun.”

Harper even took the booing from the home fans of the host Delmarva Shorebirds in stride. Delmarva is a Baltimore Orioles affiliate and when Harper was introduced before his first at-bat, there were as many catcalls as cheers.

“Can’t wait to play in Baltimore,” Harper said.

Rumors continue to swirl that Harper will be promoted from Hagerstown and start the second half at either advanced Single-A Potomac, the defending Carolina League champion, or Double-A Harrisburg. The Nationals have expressed concerns over the field conditions at Pfitzner Stadium, where the Potomac Nationals play in Woodbridge, Va., leading to speculation that Harper could be headed to Harrisburg.

Before the game, Harper responded to questions about a potential promotion by saying those decisions were in the hands of Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo. Before making Harper available for postgame questions, a Suns spokesman warned reporters to limit their questions to Harper’s first half and the All-Star Game. Questions about any possible promotions, reporters were cautioned, were off limits.