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Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez form special bond...

Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez and Nats’ slugger Bryce Harper talked this week about the bond they’ve developed in Martinez’s first year in D.C.

T-Mobile Home Run Derby Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

While he acknowledged a conversation took place, Davey Martinez didn’t share any of the details of the discussion he had with Bryce Harper over the Washington Nationals’ 25-year-old outfielder not running out a double play grounder in Citi Field.

“I’ve spoken to Bryce, and that’s a conversation that will stay between Bryce and I,” the first-year skipper told reporters in New York before the Nats’ 95th game of the 2018 campaign.

Asked about the difficulty of moving on from that kind of talk, Martinez said he was over it the second it ended.

“You know what, I forgot about it. I really have,” Martinez explained, before launching into a full-throated defense of Harper’s approach to the game and his importance to the lineup.

“We’re trying to win a ballgame today and he’s a big part of that,” Martinez said.

“Here’s a kid, like I said before, he’s all about winning. He wants to win, that’s all he cares about and he goes out there — look, regardless of his average, he’s got 23 home runs and 53 RBIs. I believe that he’s going to hit 40 and drive in a 100, and he plays hard, he really does. One little thing happens and it gets blown out of proportion, but like I’ve said, I’m a big fan of Bryce and I love the kid because of what he brings every day, and I never have to ask him, he always wants to play. I’ve tried to give him days off, nope.

MLB: All Star Game-Home Run Derby Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

“He comes in and says, ‘I’m playing, I want to help us win.’ So he’s a good kid, that’s all I can say. He’s a good kid.”

As he has been after each of Harper’s home runs this season, Martinez was there when Harper won the Home Run Derby on Monday night.

Martinez was on the field giving the Nationals’ outfielder a hug and lifting him to celebrate after the 2010 No. 1 overall pick rallied late to beat Chicago Cubs’ slugger Kyle Schwarber.

Harper talked afterwards about his affection for his manager. Martinez, who was named a coach for the National League squad by manager Dave Roberts, was out there along with both of Harper’s All-Star teammates, Max Scherzer and Sean Doolittle, and, “... fired up as all-get up,” as Harper put it.

“I have one of the best managers in all of baseball, glad to have him at our helm,” Harper added.

Earlier that day, at a ceremony to dedicate a field in his name in Herndon, Virginia, Harper spoke about the relationship he’d developed with Martinez.

“He’s — sorry, Davey Johnson,” Harper began, with respect for his first big league manager, who was in attendance at the event, “... but he’s one of the best managers I’ve ever played for. His door is open every single day.

“He’s got a heart that — you know, I haven’t really played for a manager like this guy, and I look forward to hopefully playing with him for the next 10-12 years. He’s one of the best. So hopefully — we’ll see what happens.”

After dropping the 10-12 year comment, Harper talked to reporters at the All-Star media day later that afternoon about the possibility he might actually leave Washington as a free agent this winter.

“It’s always a possibility [I leave],” Harper acknowledged, as quoted by Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

“I think that everybody knew that at the beginning of the year, that this could possibly be my last year in D.C.

“Everybody knows that. There’s no elephant in the room. Everybody knows that it’s a possibility, but I’m not really focused on that.”

Martinez told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier before the All-Star Game on Tuesday night that Harper is happy where he is and just wants to win in D.C.

“Here’s a kid that was in the league at 19,” Martinez said. “He’s going to be a free agent, never talks about being a free agent, wants to play in Washington. He’s told me that numerous times, so he doesn’t even think about that. All he thinks about is winning a championship here, now. And he wants the people to be in. That’s what he wants.”

Later that afternoon, Martinez talked to reporters in the NL (Nationals, really) clubhouse about some of the things Harper had said about him in the previous twenty-four hours.

“It means the world to me,” Martinez said, “but we’ve formed a special bond, we really have, and I get it. We always talk and I tell him, ‘Hey, not only are you the face of the franchise, but you’re a big part of baseball, and embrace it. Accept it. That’s who you are, and have fun with it,’ and he appreciates that.”

“He’s a guy I would run through a brick wall for,” Harper said after he’d won the Derby, “and I was trying to do that for him tonight.”

“From the other side watching him play all those years,” Martinez said on Tuesday, before the All-Star Game, “you knew he was a really good player, but seeing him every day, and getting to really appreciate what he does and what he brings, I think everybody saw that yesterday, I really do. So I’m happy for him and his family, and the city.

“We sat here last night and we talked about, and the fans really got him into it and he appreciated it very much.”

Harper finished the so-called first half with a .214/.365/.468 line, 14 doubles, 23 home runs, 78 walks, and 102 Ks in 94 games and 414 plate appearances, over which he was worth 1.3 fWAR.

“People talk about his first half,” Martinez continued, “... and I look at it as he’s got all these home runs, he’s got all these RBIs, he’s walking, and believe it or not he’s having fun. He just wants to win that’s it.”