Harper declines invitation for Home Run Derby
Nats All-Star participated in 2013, but wouldn't be able to have dad pitch this time
WASHINGTON -- A day after it was announced that he would be one of the starting outfielders for the National League All-Star team in Cincinnati, Nationals slugger Bryce Harper said Monday that he will not participate in the 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders next Monday.
Harper had wanted his father, Ron, to pitch to him like he did in 2013 at Citi Field. But Ron Harper is recovering from rotator cuff surgery, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Bryce also hasn't taken batting practice on the field since late May, and that was at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
"It's a great event," Harper said about the Derby. "A lot of people have been looking for me to hopefully being in it. I appreciate MLB asking me and [Reds infielder Todd] Frazier asking me. But I'm going to pass on it this year. I'm going to try and enjoy it and see if some of those guys can hit it out of the ballpark that night.
"Not having my dad throw to me, it a huge issue for me. … I know he would throw strikes for me. He knows where my sweet spot is at. That's huge for me. Hopefully in a couple of years, he would be OK. We'll see where I am."
Harper participated in the homer-hitting contest in 2013, but he finished second to Yoenis Cespedes at Citi Field.
Entering Sunday's series finale vs. the Giants, Harper was among the league leaders in almost every offensive category, including home runs (25), RBIs (60), batting average (.347) and on-base percentage (.474).