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Harper won't join All-Star teammates in KC

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Harper won't join All-Star teammates in KC

Despite a furious, last-minute campaign by the Nationals, Bryce Harper lost the NL "Final Vote" competition to Cardinals third baseman David Freese and thus won't appear in next week's All-Star Game unless he's a late injury substitution.

Freese won the online voting competition, Major League Baseball announced this afternoon, beating out Harper, Braves outfielder Michael Bourn and Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill.

Harper actually finished third, behind Freese and Bourn.

Though the Nationals' PR and marketing departments ran an aggressive campaign online and on Twitter, trying to encourage fans to vote for the 19-year-old outfielder, the baseball operations arm actually preferred he get to take the All-Star break off. Having started all but one game since he made his debut April 28, Harper talked this week about the physical and mental grind in the big leagues and how he looked forward to four days relaxing at home in Las Vegas.

Told this afternoon it didn't look like Harper would win the vote, manager Davey Johnson replied: "Good."

"I think he could use the time off, catch his breath," Johnson added, "rather than have the excitement of the All-Star Game."

Though Harper probably had more name recognition than anyone else on the ballot, Freese was a more deserving candidate based on his performance this season. Last season's World Series MVP for the Cardinals, Freese enters today hitting .285 with 13 homers and 50 RBI. Harper, who has 46 fewer plate appearances, is hitting .280 with eight homers and 23 RBI.

The Nationals still will have three All-Stars for the first time since the franchise arrived in town: pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, plus shortstop Ian Desmond. First baseman Adam LaRoche also could be a late addition if Cincinnati's Joey Votto is unable to play due to injury.

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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