- Associated Press - Saturday, July 7, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) - Nationals manager Davey Johnson was talking to general manager Mike Rizzo on Saturday when he called for Bryce Harper to come over.

Harper thought it was one of two things: “I was thinking I was going down because Rizzo and everybody was over there or the All-Star game,” he said.

Forget about that minor league return, Bryce. Next stop, baseball’s showcase game in Kansas City.

The 19-year-old Harper became the youngest position player to make the Midsummer Classic and third youngest All-Star ever when NL manager Tony La Russa selected the precocious outfielder to replace injured Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton.

Atlanta Braves speedster Michael Bourn also made the NL team Saturday, replacing Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond.

“Words can’t explain it right now,” Harper said following Washington’s 4-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies. “I think it’s exciting to go and I’m excited to get there and be around all the top guys in the country, of course, top guys in baseball. So I’m just going to take it all in, try to enjoy it with the family and try to just be as mellow and calm as I can.”

Stanton left in the third inning of Miami’s 3-2 loss at St. Louis and the Marlins said their lone All-Star representative would have arthroscopic right knee surgery on Sunday, shelving one of baseball’s best young sluggers for next week’s festivities.

“He might be out for a month or six weeks, that’s what I think,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “Hopefully less. We’re better off that way because that kid couldn’t do anything.”

Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen will take Stanton’s spot for Monday night’s home run derby.

Desmond has been dealing with a left oblique strain and is going to use the break to rest. He consulted with team doctors, management and La Russa before the decision was made to skip the game.

“It’s definitely a tough decision, one that we spent quite a few days kind of mulling over,” said Desmond, a first-time All-Star. “But in the end I think it’s best for the team and best for myself to take the rest. I would hate to be two, three weeks down the road and something happened and I didn’t take the four days to rest my body and put the team first.”

Bourn made the NL team for the second time. He entered Saturday’s game at Philadelphia with a .305 batting average, seven homers, 32 RBIs and 23 stolen bases.

Desmond’s absence put a damper on what could be the first of many All-Star appearances for Harper, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 amateur draft.

“I think he’s had a great year and has had a great first half,” Harper said. “So it’s going to be a bummer him not being there. He’s one of the best shortstops in baseball right now. It kind of sucks that he’s not going.”

Harper began the year in the minors but was promoted on April 28. He quickly made an impression with his all-out play for NL East-leading Washington, and is batting .283 with eight homers and 25 RBIs in 61 games.

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