- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bryce Harper will not be making the trip to Kansas City for Tuesday night’s All-Star Game.

On the final day of fan voting, Major League Baseball announced Thursday that St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese won the Final Vote election for a spot on the National League roster.

Harper will instead get the four-day break to rest — something he hasn’t done much of since being called up to the major leagues April 28.

Despite his rookie coming up short, Nationals manager Davey Johnson couldn’t have been happier.

“Good,” Johnson quickly responded after being told before the final results were announced that Harper was third in the voting. Michael Bourn of the Braves finished second. Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish won the American League voting.

The Nationals didn’t make Harper available to speak once the results had been announced. Harper had said throughout the process that while he’d love to be a part of the game, he’d be happy spending the time in Las Vegas with family and friends.

Harper, 19, has played in all 60 of the Nationals‘ games since his call-up from the minors. Even on the one day Johnson attempted to let him nurse a back injury that has nagged him, Harper pinch-hit and scored the winning run June 10 in Boston to help the Nationals complete a sweep of the Red Sox.

Johnson had made no secret since it was announced Sunday that his outfielder was in the Final Vote race that he would prefer Harper head home instead of playing in Tuesday’s All-Star Game.

“I think he can use the time off to catch his breath,” Johnson said. “Rather than having all the excitement of the All-Star Game. Hopefully, he can get some time off.”

Harper could still be added to the NL roster if there is an injury to one of the team’s selections, and the Nationals certainly would allow him to play if chosen.

This year, as part of the new collective bargaining agreement, players cannot simply opt out of playing in the game. They can only be excused due to injury. Given Harper’s nagging soreness, Johnson was asked if he’d have considered holding him out. Johnson put any of that speculation to rest.

“No,” he said. “I mean, I think it’s an honor to go. I always liked to go. But you’ve got to go, unless you’re totally down.”

Three Nationals were selected — starting pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez and shortstop Ian Desmond.

Since the All-Star Game decides which league holds home-field advantage in the World Series, Johnson may be paying a little extra attention this year because it could affect his team. The Nationals hold a 4 1/2 game lead over the New York Mets in the NL East and have the league’s best record.

“I haven’t had much reason to watch it in the past,” Johnson said. “But I’ll be watching it this time, especially because I got guys in it and I want to see how much they’ll play, especially for my two pitchers.”

NOTES: Closer Drew Storen began a rehab assignment Thursday with Single-A Potomac, the last step between the April 11 surgery he had to remove a bone chip in his right elbow and his return to the active roster. Storen is expected to make four minor league appearances with a day off between each one and be ready to be activated next Friday when the Nationals open the second half in Miami.

• Utilityman Chad Tracy (torn right adductor) also is rehabbing in Potomac, making his second appearance Thursday. He was 0 for 3 on Wednesday with a walk and scored a run. He had no issues regarding his running.

• Outfielder Jayson Werth is on schedule in his rehab from a broken left wrist. Werth, who has been shagging fly balls in the outfield during batting practice, has not yet been cleared to swing and still is still dealing with some pain when he make a swinging motion. Johnson said he doesn’t anticipate Werth swinging until after the All-Star break, though he remains on schedule for an early August return.

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