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Bryce Harper, Jordan Zimmermann are NL All-Stars, Desmond on final player ballot

- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 6, 2013

Ian Desmond knows what he's doing on the first day of the All-Star break.

Maybe.

Desmond, the Nationals shortstop, has a tee time scheduled. He will break it if he has to and he may well have to do that.

"If I get in and I'm healthy, I'm going, yeah," said Desmond, more than willing to save his golf for another day.

Two Nationals have definitely made the team. Starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann will take his 12-3 record to New York for the July 16 game, courtesy of the players' vote. Left fielder Bryce Harper will start, thanks to the fan balloting.

Desmond is one of the five players on the National League's "final spot" balloting.

Voting ends Thursday. Los Angeles' Yasiel Puig and Atlanta's Freddie Freeman are also on that ballot, but even if Desmond falls short there, he could still get onto the roster. Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki, voted the NL's starter at short, has been hurt.

"It's an honor to be mentioned," Desmond said. "Obviously not in, but to be in that group, to be, I guess, thought of, is good. I've come a long way since I came into the big leagues."

He isn't going to sweat the final vote or any injuries, he said. If he goes, he goes. If he doesn't, he'll play golf. Desmond was selected to the team last year but couldn't go because of an oblique injury.

"I've said it before: My number one priority is playing for the Washington Nationals and trying to get to the World Series," Desmond said. "Going to the All-Star Game is obviously a tremendous honor, but playing for the Washington Nationals and wearing a W on my chest means a lot more to me."

Through 87 games, Desmond is batting .284 with 15 home runs and 49 RBI. He had nine home runs and 28 RBI in June. He also had a stretch of almost two months without making an error.

"They do a pretty good job picking the team every year, so it is what it is," Desmond said.

Zimmermann's selection has been a foregone conclusion for a long time. Though he was denied his 13th victory Saturday against the Padres, he's been among the game's best pitchers all season. He has an earned run average of 2.57.

Desmond and Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Zimmermann should be the National League's starting pitcher.

He's thrown three complete games this season and has gone at least seven innings in nine other starts.

"That's not up to me," Zimmermann said about starting the game. "We'll see what happens, we'll see what they say and go from there. It's a huge honor to be representing the Nationals. I throw the ball and these guys score the runs for me and play the defense. I'm happy to be out there pitching for them."

Harper, the 2012 National League rookie of the year, is going to his second All-Star game. He will become the youngest NL starter ever and fourth youngest All-Star starter overall. He's the youngest All-Star starter since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1990.

Harper trailed Atlanta's Justin Upton for the final outfield spot by about 15,000 votes earlier in the week. Upton ultimately wasn't even selected as a reserve.

"I'm very blessed to be part of that. I'm just very excited," Harper said. "I got to thank the fans of D.C. and Las Vegas (his hometown) and everywhere else that voted for me. I'm very excited to do this."

Harper missed 31 games on the disabled list with a knee injury, coming back last Monday (and hitting a home run in his first at-bat back). In only 50 games, he has 13 home runs and 28 RBI to go along with a .263 batting average.

"Bryce, if he doesn't get hurt, he's setting records right now," Desmond said. "So I'm excited for those guys, and like I said, it's a tremendous honor to be able to represent your team at the All-Star Game. That's what you play for."

Staff writer Amanda Comak contributed.

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