Bryce Harper conducted a conference call with Nationals beat writers earlier today, and Scott Boras also met with local and national media members before tonight's big Stephen Strasburg debut. The implicit message: While Harper wants to play, his right not to play is a valuable one, and his camp isn't going to surrender that before they get what they feel they deserve.
Harper answered questions about how soon he wanted to sign in a very similar manner to Stephen Strasburg last year; he was polite, saying he was excited to get his career going. But just as Strasburg did last year, he mentioned plans to fill up his summer by spending time with friends and family, not minor-league teammates.
"Right now, I'm just trying to relax and just kind of hang out and have fun with my family and friends and things like that," Harper said. "I'm not really concentrating on baseball right now. I'm just trying to get into the gym and put some weight on, things like that. I'm just trying to get bigger, stronger and faster. I'm just trying to enjoy this and have a little fun over the summer. Go do some fishing."
Harper said he would let Boras handle the negotiations with the Nationals. But when Boras was asked about how quick he expected Harper to sign, Boras said, "That is a decision Bryce and his family will have to make."
Other items of interest: Harper said he wasn't planning to wear his war-paint look in professional baseball anyway, so he had no problem with general manager Mike Rizzo asking him not to. "I wasn't going to bring that to the major leagues, anyway. I didn't wear it with Team USA. That's part of the game," he said.
Harper also said he hadn't met or talked to Stephen Strasburg, but talked to Rizzo about him earlier today. He was flying back from Boras' headquarters in Newport Beach, presumably to his home in Las Vegas (though Harper wouldn't say exactly where), but said he hoped to catch the Nationals-Pirates game on DVR.
"It would be absolutely amazing to come in and play with him and try to build a winning team with the Nationals," Harper said.