Bryant, Harper co-host poker, golf tourneys

NL ROY, MVP reminisce on playing together while growing up in Las Vegas

Bryant, Harper co-host poker, golf tourneys

LAS VEGAS -- It's been some kind of offseason for Kris Bryant and Bryce Harper.

The Cubs third baseman's disappointment from being knocked out of the National League Championship Series by the Mets was soothed a bit by the fact that he won the NL Rookie of the Year Award a week into November. Not long after that, he got engaged.

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All the Nationals phenom did was win the NL MVP Award in a unanimous vote.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Bryant and Harper took part in another momentous offseason event. They served as honorary co-hosts of the annual Major League Baseball Players' Association Players Trust poker and golf tournaments.

"Usually in your rookie year, you just figure things out and lay back a little bit, but for [the Players Trust] to ask me to do this and put my name on this with Bryce, it's a huge honor," Bryant said. "I hope to be able to do this for many years to come."

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That shouldn't be a problem. Bryant is 24 and Harper is 23, and both are already highly decorated pros competing at the highest level. The Players Trust, meanwhile, continues to grow as the charitable wing of the players' union that helps communities and those in need worldwide.

That's what makes it an extra special "home game" for Bryant and Harper.

Harper attended Las Vegas High and the College of Southern Nevada before being selected No. 1 overall by the Nationals in the 2010 Draft. Bryant is a Bonanza High graduate. But both knew each other quite well long before then.

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"When we were younger, we used to call him 'Silk,'" Harper said before the two played against each other for the first time in the Majors last May. "He was so smooth with everything he did. He played third, played short, played a little outfield when we were younger. He pitched, of course, and he always hit very well."

Bryant said it's always been fun watching Harper play, too.

"I played with him, against him, all of it," Bryant said. "When he was on my team, I loved him. When he was not on my team, I hated it because he was such a good player.

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"And obviously he's a really good player now and it's fun to see what he's doing now."

Bryant said Harper's brilliance at the big league level was not in the least bit surprising.

"For me, it was kind of expected," Bryant said. "You knew from a young age just how good he was and the attention he was going to get. And he's very deserving. He was 7 years old, I was 8 years old, and we were playing with 9-year-olds. He made it look pretty easy. And he still does, and he's in the big leagues now and he's MVP and it's fun to watch."

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So Bryant is the Rookie of the Year and Harper is the MVP, and things appear limitless for the Vegas pair.

"It was a good awards season for us in Vegas, and it's a cool story, too, for us growing up in Vegas and playing with each other," Bryant said.

"It's just one of those things that we're going to be able to look back on when we're older and truly cherish."

Doug Miller is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.