Humbled Harper gets hardware, then homers

Nats superstar receives key to city, clubs 99th dinger

Humbled Harper gets hardware, then homers

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper received a trio of honors during a special presentation before the Nationals' 6-4 loss in their home opener Thursday against the Marlins. He was presented with his 2015 National League Most Valuable Player Award and Silver Slugger Award by general manager Mike Rizzo before receiving a key to the city from Mayor Muriel Bowser.

"Oh, it's incredible, it's always an honor to get the key to the city." said Harper, who also received a key to the city for his hometown Las Vegas. "Truly, I love D.C. and I love to live here, I love playing here. And what an honor to be able to get the key to the city from the mayor and I mean, I can't ... words can't explain how grateful I am for that."

Harper then proceeded to hammer his second home run of the season in the seventh inning off right-hander Bryan Morris, a 385-foot solo blast into the stands in right field.

Harper's solo homer

With 99 homers, Harper would become the eighth-youngest to reach 100 if he goes deep in the next 10 days, passing Albert Pujols, Hank Aaron and Ken Griffey Jr. Harper almost joined that list to start the ninth, driving a ball off Marlins closer A.J. Ramos 377 feet to the warning track in center field before it was hauled in by Marcell Osuna.

"I thought it was 10 rows deep, to tell you the truth," Harper said.

Harper accepts key to the city

Perhaps in warmer weather it would have been out, but Harper will have to wait another few days to add another accolade. The key to the city was the latest honor, unexpected after his historic breakout season. Upon receiving the trophy for his MVP Award, Harper held it high above his head with a wide smile as he showed the trophy to the crowd, which welcomed him with "MVP, MVP" chants.

"I think looking back on it, it was definitely something that I'll cherish," Harper said before the presentation. "It's a new year and I'm excited to get back, get going and looking forward to a new year. Hopefully as a team, as a group we can get to where we need to be and we can all stay healthy and play the game [the way we know how]."

Jamal Collier is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.