WASHINGTON -- Each of the five Nationals players who were named All-Stars on Sunday have participated in the event before, so they weren't shy when sharing their favorite part about the weekend during their press conference Monday.
"Parties," Max Scherzer said, as grins formed on Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy's and Bryce Harper's faces. "The Home Run Derby. The game. The red carpet.
"More parties. It's a party for like 72 hours."
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Zimmerman answered next, explaining how special it is to share the event with his family. But he finished his response in agreement with Scherzer.
"I hear the parties are pretty good."
Scherzer, Zimmerman, Murphy and Harper cracked jokes and shared their excitement to return to the 2017 MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard in Miami next week while speaking on the podium before the Nationals' contest with the Mets on Monday evening. Stephen Strasburg was the lone Nationals All-Star to not speak since he's starting Monday.
"It's a blast," Harper said. "You're around the best of the best. You want to be down there. It's definitely a huge honor to be able to go with a lot of my teammates this year."
Zimmerman is the only Nationals All-Star who's making just his second appearance. The 13-year veteran went in 2009, when he hit .292 with a career-high 33 home runs. He's battled injuries the last few years, but is in the midst of a resurrection season and is a top candidate to win the National League MVP Award midway through the season. Zimmerman is hitting a career-high .335 with more home runs than he's notched before the All-Star break in his career (19).
"The last three years have been tough, and honestly not playing to the ability I knew I was capable of playing," Zimmerman said. "This year has been a lot more fun. … All of us love to compete, and when you're hurt, you can't do that. That's the most frustrating thing for anyone that plays a professional sport."
Murphy, who'll be participating in the game for the second consecutive season, has focused on advanced statistics, such as launch angles and exit velocities, to improve his performance. When asked how he's so consistent, he couldn't help but crack another joke before explaining how the Nationals training staff has helped him stay healthy.
"Get the ball in the air," Murphy said as his teammates chuckled. "Air ball."
Scherzer is the only starter in the Major Leagues with an ERA below 2.00 (1.94), and he'll be making his fifth straight All-Star appearance. The 32-year-old has never started the game, though, and his teammates vouched for him to get that opportunity.
"He's pretty good," Zimmerman said.
"He does OK," Murphy responded.
"It's pretty fun to watch every fifth day," Zimmerman said.
Harper was the only player who didn't receive a question about his performance. Most people don't need an answer. The 24-year-old is one of the biggest stars in baseball, and he's missed out on the All-Star Game just once in his seven-year career due to an injury.
To finish the interview, a reporter asked the players why Anthony Rendon should be an All-Star. Rendon is one of five players in the running in the NL for the Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote, but Murphy didn't feel he needed to provide much of an explanation for why a sixth Nationals player should join them at the South Beach festivities.
"Do you go to FanGraphs at all?" Murphy responded as the room erupted in laughs. "He's really, really good. Like, under the radar superstar. FanGraphs, check it out."