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Harper won’t take bait before Yankee Stadium debut

Jun 9, 2015, 6:45 PM EST

AP

NEW YORK — Bryce Harper’s first-ever trip to Yankee Stadium as a major leaguer included a requisite stop by Monument Park and an equally requisite hounding by New York media members who tried to get the Nationals’ young star to admit he would like to wear pinstripes some day.

Harper, showing impressive maturity beyond his 22 years, refused to take the bait when asked if he ever thinks about playing for the Yankees later in his career.

“I love the Nationals,” Harper said. “I enjoy the fans that support me in right field every single day. I love running out there and seeing them out there. The Nats are such a great organization. Mr. Ted Lerner gave me the opportunity to play in the big leagues. It’s such a fun time. We have such a great team here. We enjoy it every single day. We look at every single day as a new day and go in and have the same mentality and try to play every single day. D.C. is such a great place to play.”

Harper did admittedly grow up a Yankees fan in Las Vegas, citing Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams among his favorite players to watch and Mickey Mantle as one of his all-time favorites. (He wears No. 34 in part as a tribute to Mantle, with the 3 and 4 adding up to the Mick’s retired No. 7.)

Though this is Harper’s first-ever trip to the Bronx as a big-league player, he has been here twice before: Once at the old Yankee Stadium as a fan, then once at this new incarnation as part of a pre-draft workout.

Asked why the Yankees appealed to him growing up, Harper responded: “The pinstripes. Everything about them. It’s the Yankees.”

Harper’s childhood fan preferences have long prompted people around the game to speculate he’ll actively seek to sign with the Yankees once he becomes a free agent (which won’t happen until after the 2018 season).

Pressed on that possibility Tuesday, Harper doubled down on his commitment to his current organization.

“Like I said, I enjoy playing for the Nationals,” he said. “I enjoy going out there every single day. Our goal in the organization is to win a World Series. If I can bring that back to D.C. and bring that back to the city, that’s what I want to do. I’ve said it all along.”

  1. David Proctor - Jun 9, 2015 at 6:51 PM

    The Yankees, and everyone around them, are like vultures. They latched onto his 16 year old self liking the Yankees and won’t let it go. They beat the “Yankees are his favorite team!” line into the ground, ignoring that he has repeatedly said he wants to play for one team his whole career.

    To be honest, I doubt either of those considerations matter very much. Money talks. The Yankees will be positioned to spend money, as always. So will the Nationals. Werth will be gone, Zimmerman will be nearing the end and they will presumably have MASN money. A number of other teams we’re not even discussing now will be players. Who had Cano going to the Mariners?

    To start this discussion 3.5 years before his free agency is typical New York tabloid crap. I’m glad Harper didn’t take the bait.

    • scnatsfan - Jun 9, 2015 at 7:12 PM

      Like the Dodgers, vultures with bigger wallets then everyone else

  2. janebeard - Jun 9, 2015 at 7:02 PM

    I really love this kid. I hope we get to keep him. But in the meantime, I will enjoy every day he plays for us.

    • Section 222 - Jun 9, 2015 at 11:50 PM

      Every single day. 🙂

  3. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 9, 2015 at 7:47 PM

    Well answered Bryce. Don’t take the cheese.

    • natsfan1a - Jun 10, 2015 at 6:53 AM

      The cheese stands alone.

  4. phillygirl1807 - Jun 9, 2015 at 9:07 PM

    Bryce has shown so much maturity this year. His talent speaks for itself. His winning attitude is what I love the most about him. He plays hard every day. It’s been great watching him grow into an MVP.

  5. JamesFan - Jun 10, 2015 at 9:38 AM

    Harper will discover as he gains experience that the Nats organization now is better than the Yankees. The Nats have better potential than the Yanks for years to come. He will also come to realize that he can become another Yankee or he can be remembered as potentially the greatest baseball in the history of the nation’s capital. We’ll see. Ultimately, it’s going to be decided by money.

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