Bryce Harper will take a Cherry Blossom bat to the plate for the HR Derby, representing the nation’s capital in tonight’s with some iconic imagery on all of his gear. Harper had his bats with him on the dais with him as he talked about his participation before the start of 2018’s edition of the Derby.
“There’s a bat in here and then this one is a cherry blossom,” Harper said.
“You know, just because cherry blossoms in D.C. My cleats for tomorrow are cherry blossoms, as well, and tonight, I have some American flag stuff I’m wearing.
“I think just going out there and, you know, having the gear and everything like that, just having some fun with your bats during the Derby. And I think that’s one of the coolest things, is being able to have the spikes and the bat and the gloves.
Bryce's "Harper 3" @AllStarGame and Home Run Derby cleats, respectively. Cherry blossoms on the sockliners of the former. U.S. Constitution/American flag on HR Derby cleats. (via @UABaseball) pic.twitter.com/rIjorQHAhu— Chris Lingebach (@ChrisLingebach) July 13, 2018
“I think a lot of guys up here enjoy it, especially [Javier] Baez. He’s got some of the best swag in the game. I think, Alex Bregman, too. That helps.”
“Sorry,” Harper said to his first round opponent, Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves, “Freddie, you too.”
“It’s a lot of fun to go out there and just have all the gear and be able to hit some homers, as well.”
Harper went with the cherry blossom theme, he said, because “I feel like [D.C. is] known for their cherry blossoms down by the monuments and stuff like that. If you have bad allergies, don’t come here in April. Terrible, eyes are burning.”
Harper, who is, of course, hitting in his home park, also had fun sharing his advice for his opponents in tonight’s Derby.
“There’s a corner out in right field that the ball doesn’t travel at all,” Harper said, trying to keep a straight face. “So the right field triangle corner, it’s absolutely terrible.”
“You guys stay away from there, I think you’ll be okay.”
“Freddie, you buying that?” the moderator asked.
“No, I’m not buying that at all,” Freeman said. “Mind games.”
Freeman talked during today’s media availability about drawing Harper in the first round in Nationals Park. His response when he learned he’d go head-to-head with the Nats’ slugger in Round 1?
“I was like are you kidding me?” Freeman said. “I needed some of the fans to be on my side, not 50,000 not on my side.”