This is an article from the July 29, 2013 issue
The 20-year-old outfielder finished second to Yoenis Cespedes in the Home Run Derby. After missing all of June with a left knee injury, he hopes to power the Nationals back into the playoff race.
DAN PATRICK:Did you have a strategy for the Home Run Derby last week?
BRYCE HARPER: No, I was just trying to have fun and share that moment with my dad and family. [I was] trying to act like we were just in our backyard with him throwing me BP.
DP:When did you decide you were going to have your father pitch to you?
BH: Probably when I was about 10 or 11 years old. I told him all the time when I was younger if I ever do this, it's going to be you throwing to me in the Derby. He knows where I like it. I'm very comfortable with how he throws.
DP:Your dad is jacked.
BH: He's in very good shape—48 years old, 205 pounds and ripped out of his mind. He works out every day and does CrossFit. He's a machine.
DP:Do you think you could take him?
BH: I don't know. I don't know if I want to try. I'd probably kick him in his leg or his back to try to get him down. But I think he'd get me.
DP:Which is more impressive, your dad's physique or your brother's Rollie Fingers mustache?
BH: I'm going to say [Bryan's] mustache. It's pretty incredible. He's been growing that thing for four or five months.
DP:That takes commitment.
BH: He's not going to shave it. He can't; I'm not going to let him. Everyone nationally loves it.
DP:When's the last time you were nervous in a game?
BH: I've never been nervous. I never feel pressure. It's so much fun to be part of games that are 1--1 going into the 10th inning. Or you're up bases loaded, bottom of the ninth. That's something you live for. I've always dreamed of hitting a walk-off home run in the playoffs.
DP:Is it hard to live your life?
BH: I got a great group of guys on my team and a great family and support at home. [I try to] have fun while I'm playing and be a good person on and off the field.
DP:You've seemed to adjust pretty well to the money and fame.
BH: I've been doing it for a long time. Maybe not the money and being in the big-time spotlight of major league baseball. But being young and going through everything I did—like [being on the] SPORTS ILLUSTRATED cover—I don't really think about anything else. I think about playing ball and having fun and relaxing and hanging out with my family.... I try to be the best person I can be for everyone out there.
DP:Last time you talked to Mike Trout?
BH: The day of the Home Run Derby. He told me good luck and to represent all the young guys out there. Mike Trout is an unbelievable player. Manny Machado also. Those are the two guys I love watching.
DP:Great to talk. Tell your dad to lay off the weights a bit. People are starting to get suspicious.
BH: [Laughs.]Don't be.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy told me he hasn't heard anything about trading pitcher Tim Lincecum. "Believe me, we're thin in our rotation," Bochy said. "We can't afford to lose him. We don't think we're out of this. We've been this far back before." ... MLB Network's Harold Reynolds is surprised Manny Ramirez may return to the majors with the Rangers this season: "That's a bigger story than A-Rod coming back, because Manny was dead and gone. I think he wants to go out, play the game and be remembered properly." ... Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee thinks the effect of Rory McIlroy's switching club brands has been overstated. "Historically the most dangerous thing to do is change clubs for money," the former Tour pro said. "But now it's not significant. Most of these guys are playing the same clubs, they just have different names on them." ... Angels lefty C.J. Wilson described the moment when bat meets ball on a home run. "The only thing that goes through your head is noooooo," Wilson said. "If a guy smashes one, it sounds like a pile full of money getting lit on fire."