In the least surprising development of the All-Star Game, the iPod hooked up to the speakers in the National League clubhouse before the game belonged to Gio Gonzalez. Starting pitcher Matt Cain was ambivalent about the music, and so he let Gonzalez commandeer the tunes. Gio played hip-hop, and it seemed to go over well.
Gonzalez wore a sleeveless “Strasburg Knows” T-shirt in the clubhouse. He said one of his favorite moments was watching Wounded Warrior softball player Matt Kinsey, who threw out the first pitch at a Nationals game last week, hoist the MVP trophy at the end of the celebrity softball game.
“I told him to hit two home runs,” Gonzalez said. “I didn’t tell him to win the MVP! That guy needs to throw out the first pitch again.”
Stephen Strasburg was passing around his Nationals jersey so the all-stars could sign it. Among all the players he met, he most savored getting to chat with Clayton Kershaw, Cain and Buster Posey. His favorite moment, he said, was watching Mark Trumbo crank balls out of the park in the Home Run Derby. He has been his quiet, reserved self this week, but he has also been relaxed and enjoyed himself. Gonzalez’s presence has surely helped.
When Bryce Harper walked out for pregame warm-ups, he followed directly behind Chipper Jones from the tunnel to the dugout. The rookie phenom laid three bats, two black and one silver, on the bench and walked down the dugout. When he emerged up the steps, autograph-seekers and fans yelled his name.
Earlier, Harper, 19, held a dual press conference with 20-year-old Angels outfielder Mike Trout. Harper added to the growing speculation that the All-Star Game will come to Washington soon. When asked the possibility of playing the event at Nationals Park, Harper even suggested he had heard rumblings of the game coming to the nation’s capital in 2015.
“You know, I think D.C. would be happy to have one,” Harper said. “I think being able to play in your hometown, we have a great fan base out there. They love baseball, a little bit more every single day. I think they are going to have it in 2015 or something like that in D.C. So I’m really excited about that. It will be my fourth year.”
“You’ll be what, 20?” Trout said.
“22,” Harper shot back.
Later, a reporter asked them about their friendship, which started last year in the Arizona Fall League.
“We don’t like each other,” Trout deadpanned. “Just kidding.”
“It’s like Bird and Magic,” Harper said. “I’m Bird.”
Harper later added, “I hope I play with him one day. I think him playing center field and me playing right field, it will be a one-two punch.”