- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Ladies and gentlemen, Bryce Harper is in the building.

As the hours tick down until the Washington Nationals face Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies Tuesday for the first time of many to come, Harper held his first press conference at Nationals Park since leaving the team in free agency.

“It’s definitely gonna be different,” Harper said. “I’m going to step into the batter’s box in Nats Park walking up from the other (team’s) dugout. Definitely gonna be different, but like I said, I’m excited for this new chapter. I’m excited for this next chapter and I look forward to what it’s gonna be like tonight.”

The Nationals are starting Max Scherzer Tuesday for the second time in this young season. Harper said he doesn’t recall batting against Scherzer before, whether in a spring training at-bat or before Scherzer came to Washington.

He joked he doesn’t want to make eye contact with Scherzer’s famous heterochromic eyeballs — one blue, one brown.



“I’m not gonna try to look at any of his eyes,” Harper laughed.

Scherzer recently said Harper’s return to Washington would be “just Round 1” of many to come, a fact Harper echoed Tuesday.

“I think these fans are going to watch me for a long time coming in here,” he said. “It’s going to be weird for everybody, I think, that first couple days and things like that. But for the next 13 (years) I think people are gonna get used to it.”

Harper also mentioned the Nationals’ lack of pursuit of him during free agency, saying he had “no hard feelings” against the Lerner family, which owns the team.

“We went down and met with the Lerners two days before Christmas. Did that and thought the meeting went great. And then, it just, it didn’t happen,” Harper said. “I thought on both sides it was kind of mutual and it didn’t really bother me, both ways. It was kind of just, ‘OK, well they have two great young outfielders, they have a great plan in what they want to do for their organization.’ And I said that all year last year — if I’m a part of it, great. If I’m not and they want to move on, that’s OK, I’m totally fine with that as well.”

The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

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