Bryce Harper clarified his comments in which he said he was “pretty serious” about a text message he sent to Nationals Manager Davey Johnson on Friday night in which he said “play me or trade me.”
After Saturday’s 5-4 win over the San Diego Padres, Harper said: “I was pretty serious about what I said. I want to play. I wanted to play every single day.”
Johnson originally said Friday that he wanted to give Harper the weekend off because he was “grinding too hard.” Harper texted Johnson on Friday night, and before Saturday’s game the two talked and Harper was in the lineup. Johnson said he laughed at the text and didn’t take the “trade me” part seriously. Harper drove in three runs on Saturday, snapping an 0-for-19 skid at the plate, and is back in the lineup Sunday’s game.
Asked to clarify his text on Sunday morning, Harper explained. The “trade me” part of the text was in jest. When he said he was serious, he meant the “play me” part of his comments. (That makes sense because after Saturday’s game Harper was asked by a reporter about his exchange with Johnson, which the reporter said was presumably meant to be a joke, and the outfielder responded the way he did; he never directly said he was “pretty serious” about the trade.)
If anyone interpreted Harper’s text message differently, it didn’t bother him. “[People] pick up on one thing and take it and run with it,” he said.
He was clear about how he felt about playing in Washington. “People in this city that think I really want to get traded are crazy,” he said. “I love playing here. I love D.C. and these fans and this park.”
Fan votes pushed Harper into a starting spot on the National League all-star team, which was announced on Saturday. Harper said he was asked to participate in the Home Run Derby held on July 15. New York Mets third baseman David Wright is the NL’s captain and responsible for selecting the three other participants. Harper said he has been mulling the decision and would decide by Sunday night, but wouldn’t tip his hand which way he was leaning.
The participants won’t be announced until Monday. No Nationals player has ever participated in the home run derby.