He's spent the better part of the last three days insisting he didn't deserve to go to the All-Star Game over Chipper Jones, but Bryce Harper doesn't have to worry about that anymore. And the Nationals rookie outfielder might just wind up in Kansas City next week after all.
Major League Baseball announced this evening that Jones has been added to the NL All-Star roster, taking the spot of injured Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp. That removes Jones from the five-man "Final Vote" competition that also includes Harper, and perhaps paves the way for the 19-year-old to win the online balloting process and a ticket to the Midsummer Classic.
Harper sat in third place when MLB released its first balloting results earlier today, behind Jones and Cardinals third baseman David Freese but ahead of Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill and Braves outfielder Michael Bourn. He'll still need to leapfrog Freese before voting ends at 4 p.m. Thursday, but perhaps he'll experience a surge now that fans don't need to take his advice and vote for Jones instead.
Earlier today, Harper reiterated his belief that Jones (who announced he'll retire at season's end) should be in this year's All-Star Game.
"I think so, definitely," he said. "He's a Hall of Famer and he's been an All-Star for 20 years. He's the face of that Braves franchise, and for his last year, I think he should be able to be in that game, definitely."
Though he'd happily accept an All-Star berth and a chance to play alongside the game's best next week in Kansas City, Harper also admits he wouldn't mind some downtime at home in Las Vegas over the break.
"I'm excited to go home, definitely," he said. "I think if I don't make the team, it'd be good for me to go home and get away from the world and just be Bryce, be normal. Just hang out with the family and get some home-cooked meals and hit with my Pop and just hang out."
Manager Davey Johnson seemed to have even stronger feelings on the matter, preferring that his rookie get a physical and mental break after starting in all but one game since he joined the Nationals on April 28.
"I'm sure he'll get banged up, but I don't think he's tired," Johnson said. "But I would like to see him get the time off. Because it is a demanding position. And even every time I get a chance, I'll move him to one of the corners to basically just rest his legs."
As for the now-defunct Jones vs. Harper argument, Johnson didn't hide his feelings.
"I think Chipper should be on it, period," the manager said. "Not somebody with 200 at-bats, first year."