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Harper saving next HR Derby appearance for a specific occasion

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Harper saving next HR Derby appearance for a specific occasion

BY PETER HAILEY

While it may not be as intense as the desire to see LeBron James in the NBA's Dunk Contest, baseball fans really want to see Bryce Harper participate in the Home Run Derby.

Sure, the 22-year-old already took part in the event once (he finished second in 2013's edition), but after a first half where he crushed 26 round-trippers, people wanted to get another dose of #34 repeatedly annihilating baseballs. So when it was announced a handful of days ago that Harper wouldn't appear in 2015's Derby, Nationals fans and home run enthusiasts alike were disappointed. 

On Tuesday, however, Harper said something related to his participation in the contest that will have everyone excited again -- as long as they can be patient, too, that is.

No, Harper won't do the Derby in 2016 at San Diego's Petco Park. And no, Harper won't be bashing baseballs in 2017 at Miami's Marlins Park. But, according to Scott Miller, Bryce intends to compete again in 2018, in front of his home fans at Nationals Park.

If Monday's exhibition was any indication of what 2018 will be like -- with Reds third baseman Todd Frazier finishing first in front of a raucous crowd -- people planning to attend the Derby may want to purchase their earplugs now; Harper hiting homers inside a packed Nats Park could create a pretty electric atmosphere.

MORE NATIONALS: Bryce Harper – new Marvel superhero?

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.