Harper en­joy­ing queries

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL -

MIAMI — Good news: Bryce Harper likes play­ing in New York.

But …

An­swer to a ques­tion from a Chicago reporter: Harper likes play­ing there, too.

Los An­ge­les? Yep, has al­ways en­joyed the trip.

Oh, and the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als out­fielder also has an affin­ity for the only home he’s known as a ma­jor lea­guer, D.C.

Still nearly two years out from what is an­tic­i­pated to be per­haps the most scru­ti­nized free agency in any sport since LeBron James’, Harper al­ready is field­ing a re­mark­able num­ber of ques­tions about it.

And, truth be told, Harper, 24, doesn’t mind.

“I think it’s fun,” Harper said Mon­day. “I think it’s fun for fans, I think it’s fun for baseball. I think it’s part of the world that we live in and the way peo­ple want to know and al­ways have an opin­ion about it. I think ev­ery­body’s go­ing to have an opin­ion about it the next year and a half, two years.”

Many as­sume the New York Yan­kees will end up with Harper — yet it’s al­ways use­ful to re­mind those do­ing the as­sum­ing that man­ag­ing gen­eral part­ner Hal Stein­bren­ner isn’t his fa­ther when it comes to such things — but the right fielder wasn’t pro­vid­ing any clues.

“I’ve al­ways said I en­joy play­ing in D.C., I love the city of D.C.,” Harper said. “I love driv­ing to Nats Park. I don’t like 395, but I don’t think any­body does. Be­ing able to go to Nats Park ev­ery sin­gle day, have the team that we do, the re­spect I have for the Lerner fam­ily [own­ers] and [gen­eral man­ager] Mike Rizzo is above and be­yond. The young guys that we have, we have a great club. So I’m look­ing for­ward to what we can do this year and go from there.”

Lone ’16 Cub

World Se­ries cham­pi­ons usu­ally get to keep on cel­e­brat­ing at the fol­low­ing year’s All-Star Game. Not this year. Man­ager Joe Mad­don is the only mem­ber of the Chicago Cubs’ first cham­pi­onship team since 1908 at­tend­ing the Al­lS­tar Game. With the Cubs lan­guish­ing at 43-45, tied for sec­ond in the NL Cen­tral and 5½ games back of Mil­wau­kee, their only All-Star is Wade Davis. The re­liever was ac­quired in De­cem­ber in a trade with Kansas City.

“Yes­ter­day was an awk­ward moment for me ac­cept­ing my jer­sey in front of our en­tire team in Wrigley Field,” Mad­don said Mon­day. “To be pre­sented a jer­sey on our field in front of all of our fans and have none of our play­ers out there was dif­fer­ent. It was dif­fi­cult.”

The pre­vi­ous World Se­ries cham­pion with just one All-Star was the St. Louis Car­di­nals in 2007 with Al­bert Pu­jols.

Davis pre­dicted a re­bound af­ter the All-Star Game.

“There’s a lot of tal­ent on that team and they’ll be fine. They’re go­ing to be good,” he said. “I guar­an­tee it.”

Air Mookie

Fly­ing to Miami was some­thing ev­ery All-Star had to do Sun­day with the fes­tiv­i­ties at Mar­lins Park on Mon­day.

But in a plane co-pi­loted by Bos­ton Red Sox cen­ter fielder Mookie Betts? Only Chris Archer did that, ac­cept­ing Betts’ in­vi­ta­tion to hop in his five-seater for the short hop from Tampa, Fla., af­ter the Rays beat the Sox, 5-3, at Trop­i­cana Field. Archer posted In­sta­gram pho­tos of Betts at the con­trols and con­tin­ued to marvel at Betts, who also went deep off him Sun­day.

“He told me he’s good at video games, so I trusted him,” Archer said Mon­day. “He’s good at ev­ery­thing. He can do a Ru­bik’s Cube, he’s a 300 bowler. He hit a homer off me, then flew me to Miami in a jet.”

Posey back home

Buster Posey is go­ing to be on the home team in Miami.

For once.

The San Francisco Giants catcher will be play­ing for the NL in the All-Star Game at Mar­lins Park today. It’ll be a rare in­stance of Posey be­ing on the fan-fa­vorite side in Miami — since, af­ter all, he played his col­lege baseball at Florida State.

And the Semi­noles are the archri­val of the Uni­ver­sity of Miami. The Hurricanes’ cam­pus is about eight miles from Mar­lins Park.

“I re­mem­ber com­ing down here and the hu­mid­ity just be­ing sti­fling,” Posey said of play­ing against the Hurricanes. “It was prob­a­bly May or early June at the time. Good mem­o­ries.”

Mar­lins Park has a roof. So at least hu­mid­ity won’t be an is­sue this time.

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