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Harper won't be in home run derby

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Harper won't be in home run derby

Bryce Harper will likely participate in home run derbies some day, but he'll have to wait at least another year. National League captain Matt Kemp has revealed he does not plan on selecting the 19-year-old for the upcoming July 9 showcase.

Kemp explained his decision to Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today:

"It's not because he's a rookie. It's just that there are other guys out there that are capable,'' he said.

Kemp says he based his decision on the fact Harper's home run stats don't qualify him as one of the best sluggers in the league.

"That's how I got in last year,'' Kemp said. "I had a lot of home runs in the first half. So you have to take that into consideration.''

Based on numbers, you can't really argue with Kemp. Harper has seven homers on the year with isn't even in the top 50 of National League hitters. He actually ranks third on his own team as Adam LaRoche leads with 15 and Ian Desmond slots ahead with 11.

Despite the statistical evidence, however, many around the league were holding out hope Harper would be selected for the derby. Along with Mike Trout, Harper represents the single biggest story of baseball this season. Rarely has the league witnessed two players play so well this young as major leaguers. It would have been special to see Harper take hacks in Kansas City at 19, but Kemp does present a valid case. There's always next year.

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Bryce Harper knows why he didn't play well, but he won't specify why

Bryce Harper knows why he didn't play well, but he won't specify why

Bryce Harper struggled by his standards in 2016 and he says he know why it happened last year. While it was rumored last season that he was playing through injuries, Harper never really missed significant time, nor did he really say that his injuries were the reason for his disappointing numbers. 

Speaking with the media today at spring training, Harper hinted at his injuries from last season as he said he was just trying to stay in the lineup every day.  

Although Harper's statistics dropped off dramatically from his MVP season in 2015, his numbers weren't entirely awful last year. He still hit 24 homers, drove in 86 runs and he had an .814 OPS. 

With a full offseason to heal up, Harper will be a prime bounce-back candidate as he looks to help the Nationals win their third NL East title in the last four years. 

Related: Sorry D.C. sports fans, Bryce Harper is a Dallas Cowboys fan

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Nationals' Max Scherzer says he may not be ready for season opener

Nationals' Max Scherzer says he may not be ready for season opener

The Nationals aren't certain to have ace Max Scherzer ready to pitch for Opening Day. Scherzer, 32, was unable to compete in the World Baseball Classic this summer due to a stress fracture in his right ring finger. 

When he spoke to the media today at the first bullpen session of spring training, he said that the fracture has healed but the symptoms continue. 

Scherzer also said he'd just started throwing again this week. Manager Dusty Baker confimed that the Nationals don't know whether Scherzer will be ready to start the season. 

Any time a team's star pitcher suffers an unusual hand injury, it's cause for concern for the club and fans. 

Scherzer won the NL Cy Young Award last season and posted a 20-7 record as a starter. He also led the MLB with 284 strikeouts. 

Scherzer is an especially vital part of the Nationals rotation considering the injury history of Stephen Strasburg, who landed on the DL twice last season, once with soreness in the elbow that needed Tommy John surgery in 2010. 

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