Bryce Harper has a reputation as a hitter. The Washington Nationals outfielder boasts 26 home runs this season, good enough for a place among the second in the entire MLB, and his average at the plate was a solid.339 before the all-star break.
Harper can hit. He won’t hit in this year’s Home Run Derby though after announcing that he would not participate in the annual event last week. Why not? Harper’s dad, Ron, is on the disabled list.
Ron, who pitched to Harper in the 2013 Home Run Derby, had shoulder surgery on his rotator cuff after a recent snowboarding accident and Harper did not want to compete without his dad on the mound.
Harper, the runner-up in that 2013 Derby, had been wavering about competing in the Derby, even without his father, but in the end decided to opt out. It’s a particularly disappointing move for the Harper family and Ron who actually grew up a Reds fan. He told The Cincinnati Enquirer:
I probably won’t be able to do it this year, because he’s my guy. It was weird because he’s from Vegas, and the Dodgers at that time were the big rivalry, but my dad always liked the Reds. I think my first Little League team was the Reds. My dad was a huge fan of them. (I’d watch the Big Red Machine on) ESPN Classic, of course. My dad taught me about the Big Red Machine and all those guys. And then there’s Barry Larkin – I could go on and on. I know a lot about the Reds’ history because of my dad. It’s fun to talk to him about it.
This year’s Home Run Derby underwent some pre-event changes and will now be a single-elimination bracket-style competition, complete with a five-minute timer for each batter. Hometown boy Todd Frazier of the Cincinnati Reds was the favorite to win the Derby heading into the weekend, boasting 7/2 odds as the No. 2 seed.
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