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For Harper, All-Star glory secondary to season


For Harper, All-Star glory secondary to season

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.

MORE NATIONAL: VIDEO: Harper kindly gives random fan a big gift

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

Remember Jim Riggleman, the infamous Nats manager that resigned from the position back in 2011 after a win against the Seattle Mariners? Well he's back in a managerial position.

Bryan Price was fired as manager of the Cinncinati Reds Thursday, after the team started the 2018 season 3-15. Riggleman, who spent four seasons as their bench coach, was named the interim manager to replace Price.

Riggleman was promoted to interim manager of the Nats in July of 2009, after Manny Acta was let go midseason. He stayed on as manager for 2010 and 2011, and he then resigned from the team on June 23, 2011 after a win agaisnt the Seattle Mariners. He had lead the team to a win in 11 of their last 12 games prior to stepping away.

The reason behind the dramatic exit was due to the organization not yet picking up his 2012 contract option. He had reportedly requested a conversation with the front office about his future with the organization, and was upset after they declined. At 58 years-old, he felt he deserved more respect.

He's been with the Reds organization since 2012, and has spent time managing the Padres, Cubs and Mariners, in addition to the Nationals. His career winning pct. with each team has been below-.500.


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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

NEW YORK -- Yoenis Cespedes launched a grand slam during a nine-run outburst in the eighth inning that rallied the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 11-5 on Wednesday night, preventing a three-game sweep.

Todd Frazier tied it at 4 with a two-run single and pinch-hitter Juan Lagares put New York ahead for the first time with a two-run double off ineffective setup man Ryan Madson (0-2).

Shut down by Tanner Roark for seven innings, the first-place Mets broke loose in the eighth and improved to 13-4 with a stirring victory against their NL East rivals.

Ryan Zimmerman homered twice, tripled and drove in four runs for the Nationals, who pulled off their own big comeback in the eighth inning of the series opener.

Two nights later, New York returned the favor.

Roark limited the Mets to two hits and left leading 4-2. Michael Conforto, Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera singled off Madson to load the bases with nobody out in the eighth. Jay Bruce fouled out before Frazier smacked a two-run single up the middle and advanced to second on the throw home.

After an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases again, pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores struck out. Lagares then lined a two-run double the other way, just inside the right-field line at the outer edge of the infield grass, to put the Mets up 6-4.

Sammy Solis walked Amed Rosario and Conforto to force in a run. Cespedes connected for his sixth career slam -- the third by the Mets already this season -- off A.J. Cole, sending fans into a frenzy.

Both of Cespedes' hits in the inning came on 0-2 pitches.

AJ Ramos (1-1) worked a perfect inning for his first win with the Mets since being acquired from Miami last July.

Howie Kendrick reached on an infield single for Washington in the first and Bryce Harper drew his 24th walk, most in the majors. Zimmerman, batting .121 at that point and struggling to make opponents pay for bypassing Harper, came through with a drive to left-center off Steven Matz for his second home run of the season.

Matz steadied himself after a 33-pitch first inning and retired his final 10 batters. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the fourth after throwing 74 pitches.

Cabrera doubled to open the fourth and scored on Gonzalez's single. Zimmerman had a chance to start an inning-ending double play, but his throwing error from first base allowed another run to score on Jose Lobaton's RBI grounder as the Mets cut it to 3-2.

After Mets pitchers retired 16 in a row, Zimmerman's leadoff triple in the seventh got past a diving Bruce in right field, and Moises Sierra followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.

Zimmerman also hit a solo homer in the ninth.