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Harper talks Yankees rumors, ASG in Q&A

MLB.com @ladsonbill24

In a recent sit-down with MLB.com, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper answered a wide range of topics from the NHL to the Nationals. He even talked about facing the media at Yankee Stadium starting Tuesday night.

MLB.com: Your Vegas Golden Knights gave it a good run. How surprised were you they went to the Stanley Cup Finals?

In a recent sit-down with MLB.com, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper answered a wide range of topics from the NHL to the Nationals. He even talked about facing the media at Yankee Stadium starting Tuesday night.

MLB.com: Your Vegas Golden Knights gave it a good run. How surprised were you they went to the Stanley Cup Finals?

Bryce Harper: I thought they did a great job. They really came to together for the city of Las Vegas. You couldn't ask for anything else.

VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

MLB.com: What was the turning point?

Harper: They came together as a group. They had some chips on their shoulder after getting let go from other teams. I thought they played hard, played well all year long and they stayed together. As a community as a whole, we are excited that we finally have a professional hockey team, a professional team at least. The fans supported them as best as they could, and I thought they did a great job.

MLB.com: Since hockey worked out, could baseball work in Las Vegas?

Harper: I'm not sure. I think baseball is a different sport. There are a lot people in Vegas who are fans of the Yankees, Cubs and Dodgers. It couldn't be a team coming down [from another city]. It has to be an expansion team and make it Las Vegas' team.

MLB.com: With the Capitals winning the Stanley Cup, how encouraging is it for the Nationals to win a World Series title this year?

Harper: I think as a team, every year we try to come in and win games and do what we can to bring a championship to the city. The Caps were able to do that. I'm very excited for them. Our fans are starving for that. As a team, our main goal is to win every single day and do everything we can to bring a title here. We look forward to hopefully do that.

MLB.com: Since you have been here, the Nationals have been to the postseason four times and they have come up short. Why?

Harper: It's just baseball. On any given day, somebody can beat you and vice versa. It's just the game. Hopefully, we can do that this year, get there and go a little bit further.

MLB.com: I look at this team and the talent is there.

Harper: We have a good mix of young guys and older guys. We have a good mix of a great staff, starting with Davey [Martinez], Chip [Hale], Bogey [Tim Bogar] and Kevin Long as well. We have done a great job so far. We have a lot baseball left.

MLB.com: How's your season going?

Harper: I feel pretty good. I'm feeling healthy. If I stay healthy, we'll be good.

MLB.com: The home runs and the RBIs are up there. But everyone is talking about your low batting average. What do you say about that?

Harper: I'm not really worried about it. You just have to keep plugging along, playing every day. Good things will happen.

MLB.com: Anything you would like to do better on the field?

Harper: Personally, every day, I can get better in every aspect of the game. In the outfield, hit my cutoff guy, little things like advance the runner over. Anything we can do to help the team win, I'm all for it.

MLB.com: The All-Star Game is coming up in D.C. How much are you looking forward to playing in it?

Harper: I think it's going to be great for the city. The players who are in it, they are going to enjoy D.C., they are going to enjoy our fans. They are going to enjoy coming to [Nationals] Park and playing in a great stadium. I'm excited for fans. They will be able to enjoy FanFest, all the festivities that the All-Star Game brings. The city should be excited.

MLB.com: There is the home run hitting contest. Will you participate in that contest?

Harper: I'm not sure yet. If I feel good, and I feel healthy, it's something I will look to do. I just have to feel good.

MLB.com: Last year, you didn't participate in the home run hitting contest because your father wasn't healthy. How is he doing?

Harper: He's good. If I do decide to do it, he will definitely throw to me.

Video: WSH@MIA: Harper crushes a home run to right field

MLB.com: Is there something you like, or don't like, about the home run hitting contest?

Harper: It's a great event. I think there are a lot of guys who enjoy doing it. It has to be the right moment. If you feel like doing it, you do it. If you don't, you don't. Mine has to be there as well.

MLB.com: I noticed the first day of your press conference this spring, you announced you were not going to talk about your future. My question to you is, has it lessened the pressure as far as the media is concerned?

Harper: There is always going to be media there. We are going to New York this week. I'm sure there will be a couple of media outlets there. For me, personally, I want to focus on what I can do to help this team each and every day. It wouldn't be fair to my teammates or myself to look ahead.

MLB.com: You brought this up. You are going to Yankee Stadium, and a lot of media will come to you, because everyone knows you grew up as a Yankees fan. How are you going to handle it when you get to Yankee Stadium?

Harper: We'll see when I get there.

MLB.com: There's going to be a lot of people.

Harper: There always is.

MLB.com: You like New York?

Harper: I do. I enjoy going there and playing. It's a good place.

MLB.com: As you get older, how much do you want to play with the your brother, Bryan?

Harper: If I have a chance to play with him this year, it would be incredible. I grew up playing with Bryan. It was always a lot of fun. Whenever you have two family members on the same diamond and playing in front of your family and friends, it's always special. We'll see what happens.

MLB.com: What was it like to play with him during Spring Training?

Harper: It was really cool. I would see him in the clubhouse and enjoyed those moments. He has been through a lot. I'm very excited to see him back throwing and enjoying the game.

MLB.com: How close is he to the big leagues?

Harper: I'm not sure. I talk to him here and there. He is feeling good and healthy. If he can keep feeling good, then I think he will [be in the big leagues soon].

MLB.com: You have been in D.C. since you were 19. What do the city of mean to you? What do the fans mean to you?

Harper: The city of D.C. really opened up their arms to me ever since I was 19 or even younger. D.C. has great fans. They have done a phenomenal job of really growing into Nationals fans. You see some people are Baltimore Orioles fans because of Cal Ripken and all the greats that played there. Camden Yards is one of the great ballparks in all of baseball. We've been able to take some of those fans and turn them into Nationals fans. I'm excited for the little girls and little boys that were able to come out at 5 years old. They are now 13, 14 now, and they are true Nats fans. I think you are going to see that more and more. They have done a great job cheering for us.

MLB.com: The fans have made it clear they want you to stay. They love you.

Harper: That's an amazing feeling to have. We'll see what happens.

Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. He covered the Nationals/Expos from 2002-2016. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper