The Washington Times - July 9, 2012, 10:44PM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Maybe it was an ironic twist of fate or maybe it was planned but an hour after 20-year-old Angels outfielder Mike Trout vacated his seat — the first one when you walked into the room — Bryce Harper took it.

It was just last November that the two were teammates in the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars game. Monday they were swapping seats at the 2012 MLB All-Star media day.

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“I don’t know about me but I knew Trout would (be at the All-Star game this year),” Harper said. “Everybody knew he was going to be up this year. I kind of got lucky that I had the opportunity to come up here and play.”

Harper and Trout were a part of what has to be one of the best on-paper Arizona Fall League teams ever assembled. In addition to the two of them, they were joined by at least three other players who played in the major leagues this year in Hank Conger, Brandon Crawford and Will Middlebrooks. The team itself finished 14-22, partly because most of the players had played long seasons and were just worn out by the time they got there.

“Our BPs were impressive, though,” Harper said. “That’s for sure.”

Regardless, it was Grade A media fodder when both Harper and Trout, the parallel phenoms from the National League and the American League (called up on the same day this year, by the way) were both named to their respective All-Star teams. It even played into Tony La Russa’s decision to add Harper to his team to replace Giancarlo Stanton.

“It’d be nice to put our National League young phenom against our American League phenom because they’ve been exciting our baseball world,” La Russa said. “It’s been really good for our game to see Trout and Harper come into (it).”

So are they getting tired of being linked?

“I’m pretty used to it by now,” Trout said. “I get asked a lot of questions about him and to compare each other. It’s pretty fun.

“He’s gone through a lot. He’s been rated No. 1 prospect since he’s six years old.”

Trout and Harper exchange texts messages every now and then, usually when one or the other has a highlight play. When Trout made the AL All-Star team, Harper dropped him a message. When Harper was named to the NL one, likewise. 

“It’s fun to do,” Trout said. “Keep in touch. Good friends. We’re both doing the thing we love to do which is playing baseball and get paid for it.”

– Nationals pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg were practically inseparable on Day 1 of the All-Star festivities.

The two palled their way around the outfield during batting practice and spent most of the home run derby camped together in front of the National League dugout. Eventually they were joined by Gio’s dad, Max, and Strasburg’s father Jim. 

“This is exciting,” Gonzalez said. “You get an opportunity like this to have some fun, see some superstars? I want to really hear what people say. Everybody’s here enjoying this moment and embracing it.”

– One of the popular questions at the All-Star game, especially for first-timers is their favorite memory of the All-Star game when they were growing up.

Gonzalez spoke effusively of Sammy Sosa hitting “a monster shot” in Milawaukee in 2002, Strasburg remembered watching the Home Run Derby more than anything.

Harper had a very specific moment in mind:

“I’ve got to say (Cal) Ripken in 2001 when he hit the home run,” Harper said. “Seeing him be able to go out like that was just great for baseball and great for him. He was always playing the game the right way. Him, Pete Rose and George Brett were the three guys I liked watching.”

– Matt Kinsey, an infielder for the Nationals’ Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, earned the MVP honors in the celebrity softball game on Sunday night. Kinsey, one of two WWAST players in the game along with Saul Bosquez, was 3-for-3 with a homer. 

“To take the field representing the Washington Nationals and play with so many celebrities and Hall of Famers in front of thousands of fans was one of the biggest honors of my life,” Kinsey said in a press release.

“Besides the birth of my son, this has been one of the greatest experiences of my life,” Bosquez added. “We’re so proud to be here this week wearing the Curly W.”