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Harper soaks in All-Star experience

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Harper soaks in All-Star experience

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- As expected, once the door opened inside the club level at Arrowhead Stadium this afternoon for the media's 45-minute session with members of the NL All-Star team, Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg immediately found themselves engulfed by reporters, microphones, cameras and other assorted oddities all looking to grab a minute with the Nationals' two young stars.

Sitting just to the right of his big-name teammates, Gio Gonzalez wasn't quite as big a draw, though the left-hander enjoyed the spotlight just as much.

"This is exciting," Gonzalez said. "You get an opportunity like this to have some fun, see some superstars out here, talk to them and pick their brains ... everyone's here enjoying this and embracing it."

There were, of course, plenty of attempts from media members to get Harper to chastise them for asking clown questions. Despite a whole lot of bizarre queries that qualified, Harper refrained from using the phrase that became a worldwide sensation last month.

Here are some highlights from the Nats' trio of All-Stars...

BRYCE HARPER
On his first impressions: "Being able to be around the guys that are the best players in baseball, it's pretty impressive coming in here. It's just a lot of fun being here, and it's only just getting started. Just being around these guys, I'm speechless. It's pretty unbelievable."

On what should be expected of him in tomorrow night's game: "I'm pretty terrible in All-Star Games. I don't know what they're going to see from me. Aflac All-American, I was 0-for-5 with four Ks. Under Armor All-American, I was like 0-for-5, 5 Ks. Last year in the Futures Game, I was like 0-for-5, 5 Ks. I'm just going to try to enjoy myself as much as I can and have as much fun as I can. Really just take it all in."

STEPHEN STRASBURG
On having multiple teammates alongside for the All-Star Game: "It's great being on a first-place team that can have more than one guy here. To be in this situation, where you have four guys, it's awesome."

On Gonzalez: "I've learned so much from him already, and I think he's learned a thing or two from me. We're a great combination. I'm excited we're going to be here for a while."

GIO GONZALEZ
On his teammates: "If it was up to me, I'd bring the whole team with us. Every single one of those guys deserves to be here."

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

The Washington Nationals announced Friday Dusty Baker will not return as manager of the club in 2018. 

Baker led the team to the first back-to-back division titles in franchise history, and the Nationals were 192-132 under Baker, but they failed to make it to an NLCS.

Baker is 14th in MLB history with 1,863 career wins.

The next Nationals' manager will be their seventh since they arrived in DC.

Only the Marlins have had as many.

"I'm surprised and disappointed," Baker told USA TODAY Sports. "They told me they would get back to me and I told them I was leaving town yesterday and they waited 10 days to tell me."

"I really thought this was my best year. We won at least 95 games each year and won the division back to back years but they said they wanted to go a different direction. It's hard to understand." 

The team also announced the contracts for the Major League coaching staff have also expired, and the search for a new manager will begin immediately.

RELATED: BRYCE HARPER THANKS NATIONALS' FANS FOR SUPPORT

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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

While Nats fans were still digesting the news that Dusty Baker will not return as manager next year, the team released some more surprising news. 

Second baseman Daniel Murphy underwent knee surgery today, per an official team report. 

Washington Post reporter Chelsea Janes reported that the surgery is considered significant and the team won't put a timeline on the recovery process:

"The procedure, according to the statement released by the team, repaired articular cartilage in Murphy’s right knee. For those interested in the details, it was a debridement and microfracture surgery, and orthopedic surgeon Timothy Kremchek performed it."

"For those concerned with the implications of the procedure, those are still unclear. The statement clarified that Murphy’s rehab “will progress throughout the offseason,” as one would hope, and did not include a timetable.

RELATED: HARPER THANKS FANS FOR SUPPORT