Harper, Zimmermann make NL All-Star team
Outfielder voted in by fans as starter; right-hander part of staff
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals will be well represented at the 2013 All-Star Game as outfielder Bryce Harper and right-hander Jordan Zimmermann will be going to New York to play for the National League squad at Citi Field.
Harper was voted in as a starter by the fans, while Zimmermann was voted in by the players. Nationals fans can also send Ian Desmond to the All-Star Game by voting for him in the Final Vote.
Harper becomes the first member of the Nationals to appear in two All-Star games. The first one came last year in Kansas City, as he went 0-for-1 with a walk in that game. He also becomes the youngest player in the NL -- fourth overall -- to start an All-Star Game.
It was 6:30 p.m. ET on Saturday when manager Davey Johnson approached Harper to tell him that he was going to All-Star Game. But Harper said he already knew that he was going to New York.
"I'm very blessed to be part of [it]," Harper said. "I'm very excited. I have to thank the fans in DC and Las Vegas and everywhere else that voted for me. I'm very excited to do this. It's just another All-Star Game for me. I'm just excited. I'm looking forward to it, just being around the top guys in baseball. Hopefully, we can get Ian Desmond to join me."
Harper, 20, accomplished this feat even though he missed more than a month of action because of an injured left knee. After coming off the disabled list on July 1, Harper immediately showed how much of an impact he has on the Nationals. In his first at-bat, Harper hit a home run during a 10-5 victory over the Brewers.
Before going on the disabled list in early June, Harper was clearly the Nats' best player. At the time, he was leading the team in almost every offensive category, including home runs, runs scored and batting average.
"Bryce is a big part of this team," Zimmermann said. "Our lineup hasn't been 100 percent all year. He is a great hitter, great defender. … He's definitely young and has a lot of learning to do. He is a an energetic player and he is going to give it his all every time out. That's all you can ask for."
Although right-hander Stephen Strasburg gets most of the publicity, Zimmermann has been the Nationals' best pitcher this year. Zimmermann is in the top 10 in the league in almost every major pitching category, including WHIP, wins, ERA and opponents' batting average.
"I'm going deeper in the ballgames. Last year, I wasn't going nearly as deep," Zimmermann said. "After six innings I was done. [Now], I'm keeping the pitch count low and I'm able to stay out there for the sixth, seventh, eighth innings."
Zimmermann found out he was going to All-Star Game after he was taken out of Saturday's game against the Padres. Once he entered the locker room, teammate Dan Haren gave him the news.
"I feel like Stras had a great first half. He could also be there," Zimmermann said. "Like I said, I throw the ball, they score the runs for me, they play the defense. I'm happy to be out here and pitching well."
Unlike in the past, Zimmermann has decided not to go for strikeouts. Letting opposing hitters put the ball in play is the best way to go, he believes. Zimmermann always remembered what pitching coach Steve McCatty told him: "Don't go for strikeouts and don't walk anyone."
"Every time he steps on the mound, he kind of solidifies or portrays the type of pitching staff that we want to be as a whole," teammate Tyler Clippard said. "He attacks guys, he goes after people and he pitches with no fear. As a pitching staff, when we watch him pitch, it makes us all better because he is aggressive and attacks people."
If one looks at his record (12-3) for this year, Zimmermann deserves to start for the NL in the Midsummer Classic. How does Zimmerman feels about starting in the game? He was humble when he answered the question.
"That's not up to me. We'll see what happens. We'll see what they say and go from there," he said.
From Saturday to Thursday, be sure to return to MLB.com and cast your 2013 All-Star Game Final Vote sponsored by freecreditscore.com for the final player for each League's All-Star roster.
And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2013 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
The 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field on Tuesday, July 16. Come to MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 84th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.