Bryce Harper “definitely excited” about returning to All-Star Game as starter

Bryce Harper batting white.jpgNationals right fielder Bryce Harper was selected to his third All-Star Game as the leading vote-getter in the National League. Harper garnered well over 13.9 million votes to get the opportunity to start in the 86th All-Star Game on July 14 in Cincinnati at Great American Ball Park.

The 13,964,950 votes were the third most of any player in Major League Baseball. This will be his second career start.

After Sunday’s 3-1 win over the Giants, Harper said he was thrilled to get voted to start this season’s Midsummer Classic.

harper-smile-with-beard-sidebar.jpg“Oh yeah, definitely excited, being able to play alongside some of the best in baseball at the All-Star Game,” Harper said. “Being able to hang out and just have a good time with everybody. Definitely going to be exciting and very happy and very blessed to be a part of it. Got to thank all of our fans and all of fans across the country that voted for me, and thank you very much for all of the support.”

Harper went 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and a run scored in Sunday’s series sweep of San Francisco. He is now batting .347 and has 25 homers and 60 RBIs in 76 games this season.

“He’s got the ability against the lefties, especially hit the ball the other way to the opposite gap, he’s staying on top of that baseball and driving the ball to the gap,” said Nationals manager Matt Williams. “He’s just plugging away. He’s calm, and it’s short to the ball and he’s playing great defense. We’re all very happy for him.”

Winning pitcher Jordan Zimmermann said he was not surprised Harper was voted into another All-Star Game.

“That’s a no-brainer,” Zimmermann said. “You can see the numbers he’s putting up. He’s well-deserved, and I’m happy for him. I’m happy for him.”

When asked why he was having such a standout start to the season, Harper gave credit to his teammates and coaching staff.

“I got a great group of guys around me,” Harper said. “Just being able to come in here and have fun and do the things we need to do as a group, as a family like we are. A lot of credit to them. A lot of credit to skipper. He’s there for me every single day. If I need something on the pitcher, if I’m not feeling right, just trying to keep me calm. And credit to Ian Desmond. He’s one of the guys who keeps me even keel every single day and really helps me out on a daily basis.”

A couple of weeks ago, Harper said he was leaning towards not participating in the Home Run Derby because his dad, Ron, had just completed rotator cuff surgery and is not available to throw batting practice to him for the event this year. But asked again about the Derby, Harper left the door open.

“I’m not sure yet,” Harper said. “(Players union chief) Tony Clark actually texted me this morning. I told him I’d give him an answer tomorrow about that. My pops ain’t gonna throw to me. I’ll see what I want to do. I haven’t hit on the field in four months except for one time in Chicago because of the cage. That’s the only time I’ve hit on the field all year. We’ll see how I feel.”

But Harper said he does appreciate the chance to be with other top players from other teams for a couple of days and play in the All-Star game, taking in all the events all week.

“I enjoy that. There are some things that are kinda monotonous,” Harper said. I definitely enjoy it. I enjoy being around all the guys and just hanging out. That’s the best part. Being on the field and playing with guys you don’t normally play with, guys you’re playing against. And playing for a manager you never played for before. It’s exciting. Bring the family and take it all in.”

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