Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was asked to be on Team USA for the World Baseball Classic but the 20-year-old declined the offer, preferring to focus on his first full major league spring training and preparing for the 2013 season.
Harper, who has been reassigned to minor league camp about halfway through both of his spring training experiences, has an obvious place on the big league roster this season and wants to soak in the full time in camp.
“I think it was just too serious of at-bats for right now,” Harper said of declining the WBC invite.
“Coming off the year that we had, I just wanted to get back and get back in the swing of things in spring training. It’s the first spring training that I can really be with the big league club. Hopefully in four years, I’ll do the WBC then.”
Last year was a long one for Harper. He began his season in Triple-A but was called up to the Nationals on April 28 and became an everyday player from then through the end of the Nationals’ playoff run in the National League Division Series.
It was a year full of new experiences for Harper and it’s easy to understand why he might want a chance to have a full, uninterrupted spring training as he heads into his sophomore season.
The Nationals do not have many of their major leaguers playing in the WBC. Outfielder Roger Bernadina will play for the Netherlands and second baseman Danny Espinosa, who revealed he has been rehabbing a torn rotator cuff this winter, is committed to play for the Mexican team though it’s unclear if he definitely will.