CINCINNATI -- Don't get Bryce Harper wrong. He loves this All-Star Game thing and harbors future ambitions for the Home Run Derby, despite declining an invitation this year. If Harper is asked, he will say no again next year in San Diego, then once more in 2017 -- "[Giancarlo Stanton] will probably win in Miami," he says of that year.
But when the Derby comes to Washington the year after that, Harper plans to participate.
For now, one of the game's brightest young players will settle for the All-Star Game itself. Harper may not have made much of an impact in Tuesday's 6-3 National League loss, finishing 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and an uneventful six innings in right field. But he still relished his experience.
Earlier in the day, Harper lounged inside Great American Ball Park's home clubhouse, at the corner locker that used to belong to Ken Griffey Jr. He spoke of the growing influence of baseball's young superstars, as Griffey once was, and as Harper, Mike Trout and others are now. Trout may have generated grander headlines Tuesday, homering the lead off the Midsummer Classic, but plenty of scouts and general managers would still take Harper given the choice.
The District's brightest superstar understands how much influence that gives him, a 22-year-old who has already been to three All-Star Games and started two of them.
"I guess it's a young game now," Harper said. "We're just trying to build it and keep doing what we need to do to try to enjoy it, and just take it all in."
The Nationals' other representative in Cincinnati, starting pitcher Max Scherzer, was unavailable to play after throwing 115 pitches Sunday in a win over the Orioles. But he still relished watching Harper from afar, among other high points in and around Great American Ball Park.
"It's still 48 hours of chaos," Scherzer said, laughing. "I love it. This is something I'll always welcome."