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For Harper, All-Star glory secondary to the season

Jul 15, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT

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CINCINNATI — He had just gone 0-for-3, striking out a couple of times and having very little impact on the 86th MLB All-Star Game. And this after having very little impact on the 83rd and 84th Midsummer Classics.

Bryce Harper, though, was all smiles late Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park. It mattered not at all that he went hitless during the National League’s 6-3 loss to the American League, nor that his career All-Star batting record now shows him 0-for-6 with a walk and three strikeouts.

“Not really,” the young star admitted. “I’m sorry to say that, but as long as I’m getting hits during the season and we’re winning ballgames, that’s all that matters. Just like the Derby. I’d rather hit homers in a game than in the Home Run Derby. Of course you want to get a knock in the All-Star Game, and the first one’s going to be pretty cool. But all in all, you just try to get your knocks during the season and do your damage there.”

Not that Harper enjoy watching Mike Trout steal all the thunder at this event. The Angels outfielder did it yet again Tuesday night, homering to lead off the game and becoming the first player ever to be named All-Star MVP two years in a row.

But Harper also understands legacies aren’t built on what you do in mid-July but what you do from April through September and then especially what you do in October. (Quick: Do you know Derek Jeter’s career batting average in All-Star Games? Didn’t think so.)

“I just try to have as much fun as I can,” Harper said of his approach to All-Star week. “Hanging out with the guys, getting to know everybody from the other teams and playing for a manager that you don’t normally play for, you just try to enjoy it as much as you can. And that’s what I try to do every time I’m here.”

Truth be told, there wasn’t much fun to be had during any of Harper’s three at-bats Tuesday night. He was left to face three of the toughest left-handers in the game: Houston’s Dallas Keuchel, Detroit’s David Price and Baltimore’s Zach Britton.

Harper made contact only once, grounding out to third against Keuchel in the bottom of the first. He struck out on a 1-2 changeup from Price to lead off the bottom of the fourth. And then he struck out on a 2-2 changeup from Britton in the bottom of the sixth, though he missed an opposite-field double by only a couple of feet earlier in the at-bat.

“It’s definitely tough,” he said of his three at-bats against three different lefties. “It’s a different atmosphere. You try to go deep a little bit and just have some fun with it. I had fun. That’s all I’m going to say. I had fun.”

Harper admitted he takes a slightly different approach to the plate in these exhibition games than he does the rest of the year.

“I don’t know if I’m as locked in as I am during the season,” he said. “You go up there and of course you want to do your thing and try to get some base knocks and try to win a game. But you have that urge to try to go deep and hit it as far as you can. It’s a little bit different in the season when you’re trying to have quality at-bats. Also, it’s like spring training. You’re facing a new guy every single day, every single at-bat. And he’s an All-Star. So it’s tough up there.”

After finishing runner-up to Yoenis Cespedes in the 2013 Home Run Derby in New York, Harper sat out this year’s power contest. And he reiterated Tuesday night that he plans to sit out the next two as well. Why?

“San Diego and Miami,” he said, listing the locations of the 2016 and 2017 All-Star Games. “Not really two good parks for a lefty to hit in.”

Harper does already have grand plans for competing in the 2018 Derby at Nationals Park — “I think D.C.’s going to be a great place to host,” he said — and he has no plan to take a full All-Star break anytime soon.

“Oh man, hopefully not for the next 15 years,” he said. “I’d love to be here every single year.”

Even if he still doesn’t get a hit.

  1. Doc - Jul 15, 2015 at 7:17 AM

    Well said Harps.

    The ASG is 90% hype, and 10% real baseball.

    Enjoy, have fun, take it all in, but don’t take it too seriously, especially the batting practice/HR Derby.

    Now let’s get back to the real stuff!

    • veejh - Jul 15, 2015 at 7:22 AM

      2 more days off…..ugh.

  2. Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 15, 2015 at 7:31 AM

    How does Bruce Bochy not get AJ Burnett into his only All Star game.

    Jacob deGrom was complete filth. That was the pitching performance of the night.

    Aroldis Chapman was dominant on a big stage.

    Brian Dozier was the last player added to the AL roster and all he did was “go yard” in his only at-bat.

    Mike Trout likes All Star games.

    • rayvil01 - Jul 15, 2015 at 8:00 AM

      Bochy definitely should have gotten Burnett in to the game. I was watching his interview during the Pitt/ StL game the other night. He’s definitely retiring at the end of the year. Getting him in should have been a priority.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 15, 2015 at 8:04 AM

        Burnett has had a better 1st half than Bumgarner. Just saying.

        Just read that deGrom threw 10 pitches in his inning. 1 pitch away from the Immaculate Inning.

  3. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 15, 2015 at 8:25 AM

    DeGrom was electric last night… Didn’t watch the entire thing but I did happen to catch his outing… Nothing else really needs to be said about Mike Trout…

    I am still hopeful that Mike R was wining and dining Jocketty… As I am hopeful that the Nats will be able to get Chapman, without giving up too much. We have seen Rizzo work his magic, hopefully he can do it again.

    BHarp34 was jazzy last night with the jacket and shoes… Frickin loved the jacket…

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 15, 2015 at 8:47 AM

      There’s Chapman then everyone else. He will be costly but worth it as you get back a prospect if you QO him after 2016 or trade him next year if you don’t need him.

      Remember when Chapman defected the Nats came in 2nd in bidding on him.

      • jd - Jul 15, 2015 at 11:13 AM

        Sorry,

        I don’t think Chapman will be worth what the price to get him will be. As great as he is and he is great he’s not worth a Giolito, Ross or Turner and Cinci won’t trade him for much less than that.

        I would much rather we concentrate on acquiring a bat especially if it is determined that Ryan Zimmerman can’t be counted on for the rest of the year. Adam Lind anyone?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 15, 2015 at 11:19 AM

        jd, you shake the tree. Rizzo is not giving up a Top 5 prospect. To get to an Axford or KRod isn’t worth more than what Rizzo already has.

      • jd - Jul 15, 2015 at 11:24 AM

        Ghost,

        I agree, please no Krod or Axford. In fact I don’t think we need to get a reliever. I think people don’t have patience but Treinen and Barrett have the stuff to pitch with anyone, they are simply not there consistency wise yet but it’s getting there.

        If you are Cinci Chapman is your golden egg. Cueto and Leake are free agents at the end of the year so they are just rentals. Why would you move a Chapman for anything less than an ‘A’ prospect?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 15, 2015 at 11:28 AM

        Yes, Treinen and Barrett have filth and as much as I like their repertoire they both have froze in big spotlight moments and that worries me. Sometimes it’s more than “stuff”, it’s how they handle pressure.

        I was a big Treinen supporter and the mental side is what I’m concerned with.

        I like what Joe Cool Ross could do if given the chance for 1 inning setup.

      • virginiascopist - Jul 15, 2015 at 11:37 AM

        Then just out of curiosity, how has Chapman done in the spotlight? Talking playoffs here, not All-Star game.

      • Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 15, 2015 at 3:56 PM

        Here you go, Scopist:

        Chapman in MLB postseason

        I don’t have Cuban stats, but I think they’d be relevant.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 15, 2015 at 4:09 PM

        Thanks for posting. In his 5 postseason games, he never had the opportunity for a Save. He came in 3 games the Reds were losing, 1 game that was tied and 1 game the lead was more than 3 runs.

  4. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 15, 2015 at 8:25 AM

    So… do we know who is pitching this series against the Dodgers yet?

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 15, 2015 at 8:33 AM

      Kershaw and Greinke just don’t know which days

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 15, 2015 at 8:34 AM

        I should have been more specific… Was wondering about Saturday, specifically…

        BTW – I haven’t been following but what is going on with Kershaw? Saw him give up the RBI last night… I was surprised Bochy left him in there..

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 15, 2015 at 8:43 AM

        Not sure when Mattingly will post up. Greinke threw 39 pitches last night so he may go on Sunday.

      • adcwonk - Jul 15, 2015 at 10:15 AM

        BTW – I haven’t been following but what is going on with Kershaw?

        Guys in the booth diagnosed it as follows: that he still has great stuff, but he occasionally misses his spots. On one of those hits (homer?), the batter had two strikes, Posey set up for a low-outside pitch, and Kershaw served it up and down the middle. Completely missed his spot.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 15, 2015 at 10:22 AM

        He has been very inconsistent this year. I keep looking at pitchers like Verlander, Kershaw, and even Bumgarner and see the use on their arms and the effects. Tim Lincecum has been an inconsistent pitcher for years now.

        This is the trap that Rizzo can’t let happen to Scherzer. I will say it 100 times. Even machines break down from over-use. 2 starts in a row that Scherzer’s velo has been down.

        Meanlingless innings in June to push him to CGs add up. A 119 pitch count in 8 2/3 innings is closer to 135 when compared to a pitcher who throws 119 in a full 7 innings because even warm-up pitches between innings add to it.

      • adcwonk - Jul 15, 2015 at 1:57 PM

        Agreed.

    • jd - Jul 15, 2015 at 11:10 AM

      Ghost,

      I hear what you are saying. I think the concept of over use is more relevant when discussing younger pitchers whose shoulders aren’t completely developed, generally under the age of 25. For someone of Scherzer’s age and experience the idea of throwing 120 pitches in a game shouldn’t be that big of a deal especially if he is still executing his pitches.

      I have complete faith in the Nats understanding of pitcher development and use based on their history.

  5. Theophilus T.S. - Jul 15, 2015 at 8:51 AM

    I believe Mattingly said Greinke would start the third game.

    Maybe it was Harper’s horse collar but I thought the game was boring and it did not retain my attention after about the fifth inning. The game has a split personality — you’re supposed to win the game for your league but the manager’s job is to get as many players on the inflated roster into the game as possible . . . and avoid a tie. No continuity.

    • NatsLady - Jul 15, 2015 at 8:59 AM

      Yes, I also pretty much lost interest after a while. DeGrom is the best of the Mets’ young pitchers, I’ve thought so for a while.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 15, 2015 at 9:21 AM

        There were people here thinking deGrom was a fluke and would have a sophomore slump. He came up as a shortstop and was converted to a pitcher so he’s flown below the radar. It doesn’t happen often but he’s the real deal.

      • jd - Jul 15, 2015 at 10:10 AM

        DeGrom is the real deal. No doubt. He is also the oldest of the Mets young pitchers at 27, he had TJ surgery several years ago but is clearly all the way back.

        If the Mets ever acquired a couple of good bats they could really be scary with of their young pitchers. Until they actually take on some salaries I remain skeptical that they will.

      • adcwonk - Jul 15, 2015 at 10:16 AM

        I watched only parts of the game, but I was really glad I saw deGrom. Just. Wow. A historical performance.

        I also saw an interview of him afterwards — he said he was so nervous that he couldn’t even remember his first pitch out there.

  6. unterp - Jul 15, 2015 at 10:36 AM

    not sure of anything, but if you are going to add a pitch clock, or clocks in general, it should be something extreme like 15 secs, a catcher visiting the mound counting as a visit, and lets keep the 162 games, but lets make it really interesting by going to 7 inning games, only going to a maximum of 9 inning for extra inning, and going to a shoot out 3 minute 1 round HR derby after 9 innings, if a tie after that, 2 min round, etc

    Damn if this wouldn’t bring new fans to the game…

    • Bruxtun - Jul 15, 2015 at 11:00 AM

    • ehay2k - Jul 15, 2015 at 1:13 PM

      And this one, where a certain catcher flies the white flag when he tries to bunt on an 0-2 count. Still one of my fave Nats vs. Barves moments.

      • adcwonk - Jul 15, 2015 at 2:03 PM

        That’s great — I thought of the above, too, when watching deGrom.

        Thanks for providing the good evidence in rebuttal to the overwhelming consensus around here of: “I don’t know whatever they saw in HRod!” I’ve been an HRod defender of sorts for years (not defending his awful performances, of course, but defending just how good he was up until the May 2012 disaster.)

      • Soul Possession, My Sofa - Jul 15, 2015 at 4:06 PM

        THAT was pretty fricken bueno.

      • Dave - Jul 15, 2015 at 5:06 PM

        PFB is the thing I miss most about Hot Rod.

      • ehay2k - Jul 15, 2015 at 7:02 PM

        Yeah, that term exists only because he was here, and had some PFB performances. I so wish he could have figured it out.

      • adcwonk - Jul 15, 2015 at 7:20 PM

        And please note — to those who keep saying that HRod was a thrower not a pitcher — that beautiful curve he threw for that last strike out.

        He was a pitcher who had sky-the-limit potential, and who, sadly, got a bad mental block, a la Rick Ankiel.

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