Plenty of good things happened on the field today for the Washington Nationals in their 4-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies, but it was the moves happening silently off the field, behind the scenes that will have people stirring far more than from the sight of the box score.
Sure, the Nats (49-33) got the victory over the Rockies (32-52) and Gio Gonzalez secured his twelfth Curly W (12-3), making him the only Nationals player besides Livan Hernandez to put up as many wins before the All-Star break.
Sure, Ian Desmond launched his 16th Home Run of the year over the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center, during the 2nd inning, giving himself a royal sendoff to his first All-Star appearance.
Right. About all that.
While all that was going on, in fact, shortly after the Desmond solo-home run, the Nationals organization announced their star shortstop will not be appearing in Kansas City for his first All Star Game. Instead, he’ll be sitting at home in Sarasota, Florida, resting an oblique strain.
Keep in mind, there’s a game going on during the release of this statement, and all of the 20,000+ that are in the stadium, braving the heat to cheer on their sweating stars, are none-the-wiser.
Well, there’s more.
Also, while this seemingly average 9-inning game was being played, Bryce Harper was informed HE is now an All-Star.
It seems Miami Marlins outfielder, Giancarlo Stanton had to pull out to undergo arthroscopic surgery, and the fresh-faced, 19-year-old Harper is his replacement. This move will make Harper the youngest All-Star position player in the history of the game (third youngest overall player behind Dwight Gooden and Bob Feller).
After the game, just a mere minutes off the heels of a victory, Ian Desmond was out of sorts.
“It’s just tough. It’s not something that you want to do, withdraw your name from the All-Star game. I mean, as tough as it sounds, it’s harder to do. Especially when you were selected by Tony LaRussa personally. It’s just a hard decision to make.”
Harper, who had admitted just days before that he was looking forward to the time off and the opportunity to relax his mind in the company of his family, seemed almost worn out about the idea of being an All-Star.
When asked what his first thought was when told he was one of the elite, he jokingly responded, “I don’t get to go home.”
Maybe he was just tired from playing 3 and a half hours of baseball in blistering, 100-degree heat. Regardless, he put on a smile and reiterated that he’ll give it his best because it’s for the fans.
But more importantly, it seems this young kid that’s tearing the cover off the ball will still have the comfort of home brought to him.
“I’m just going to try to take it all in and try to enjoy it with the family and be as mellow and calm as possible.”
No word on if Harper will also take Giancarlo’s place in the Home Run Derby.
- Chris Lingebach (Nats Reporter)