‘This is my city’: Bryce Harper 0 for 4 in possibly last home Nats game

Bryce Harper
Washington Nationals Bryce Harper, looks at the baseball field from their dug out before the start of the Nationals last home game of the season against the Miami Marlins in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34), runs to the field from the dug out at the start of the Nationals last home game of the season during a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34), runs to the field from the dug out at the start of the Nationals last home game of the season during a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
In this photo taken April 30, 2010, Bryce Harper plays with College of Southern Nevada Coyotes baseball team in Henderson, Nev. Bryce Harper's story book tale is nearly complete as major league baseball's amateur draft approaches, one year and 29 home runs after Sports Illustrated pegged the teen as the LeBron James of the diamond.  (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
In this photo taken April 30, 2010, Bryce Harper plays with College of Southern Nevada Coyotes baseball team in Henderson, Nev. Bryce Harper’s story book tale is nearly complete as major league baseball’s amateur draft approaches, one year and 29 home runs after Sports Illustrated pegged the teen as the LeBron James of the diamond. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Isaac Brekken)
In this photo taken April 30, 2010, Bryce Harper plays with College of Southern Nevada Coyotes baseball team in Henderson, Nev. Seventeen year old Harper is expected to be the first pick in the Major League Baseball draft. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
In this photo taken April 30, 2010, Bryce Harper plays with College of Southern Nevada Coyotes baseball team in Henderson, Nev. Harper, 17, is expected to be the first pick in the Major League Baseball draft. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Isaac Brekken)
In this photo taken April 30, 2010, Bryce Harper plays with College of Southern Nevada Coyotes baseball team in Henderson, Nev. Seventeen year old Harper is expected to be the first pick in the Major League Baseball draft. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
In this photo taken April 30, 2010, Bryce Harper plays with College of Southern Nevada Coyotes baseball team in Henderson, Nev. Harper, 17, is expected to be the first pick in the Major League Baseball draft. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Isaac Brekken)
SECAUCUS, NJ - JUNE 07:  MLB commissioner Bud Selig announces Bryce Harper as the first overall pick to the Washington Nationals during the MLB First Year Player Draft on June 7, 2010 held in Studio 42 at the MLB Network in Secaucus, New Jersey.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
MLB commissioner Bud Selig announces Bryce Harper as the first overall pick to the Washington Nationals during the MLB First Year Player Draft on June 7, 2010 held in Studio 42 at the MLB Network in Secaucus, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) (Getty Images/Mike Stobe)
SECAUCUS, NJ - JUNE 07:  A detailed view of the first overall pick of the Washington Nationals Bryce Harper on the draft board during the MLB First Year Player Draft on June 7, 2010 held in Studio 42 at the MLB Network in Secaucus, New Jersey.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
A detailed view of the first overall pick of the Washington Nationals Bryce Harper on the draft board during the MLB First Year Player Draft on June 7, 2010 held in Studio 42 at the MLB Network in Secaucus, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) (Getty Images/Mike Stobe)
Baseball player Bryce Harper smiles during an interview in Newport Beach, Calif., Monday, June 7, 2010. The Washington Nationals selected junior college slugger Bryce Harper with the No. 1 overall pick in the baseball draft Monday night. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Baseball player Bryce Harper smiles during an interview in Newport Beach, Calif., Monday, June 7, 2010. The Washington Nationals selected junior college slugger Bryce Harper with the No. 1 overall pick in the baseball draft Monday night. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Jae C. Hong)
Bryce Harper, smiles, at a news conference where the Washington Nationals basetball team introduced him as their first overall selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, at Nationals Park in Washington Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Bryce Harper smiles at a news conference where the Washington Nationals baseball team introduced him as their first overall selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, at Nationals Park in Washington Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Alex Brandon)
Ryan Zimmerman, right, helps Bryce Harper put on his new jersery, at a news conference where the Washington Nationals introduced Harper as their first overall selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, at Nationals Park in Washington Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Ryan Zimmerman, right, helps Bryce Harper put on his new jersery, at a news conference where the Washington Nationals introduced Harper as their first overall selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, at Nationals Park in Washington Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Alex Brandon)
Washington Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman, left, shakes hands with Bryce Harper at a news conference where the Nationals introduced Harper as their first overall selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, at Nationals Park in Washington Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010. Harper  agreed to a $9.9 million, five-year deal with the baseball club last week. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Washington Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman, left, shakes hands with Bryce Harper at a news conference where the Nationals introduced Harper as their first overall selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, at Nationals Park in Washington Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Alex Brandon)
WASHINGTON - AUGUST 26:  Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals takes batting practice at Nationals Park on August 26, 2010 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals takes batting practice at Nationals Park on August 26, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) (Getty Images/Greg Fiume)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Washington Nationals prospect Bryce Harper #34 playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions hits a single against the Phoenix Desert Dogs during the AZ Fall League game at Scottsdale Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Washington Nationals prospect Bryce Harper #34 playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions hits a single against the Phoenix Desert Dogs during the AZ Fall League game at Scottsdale Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) (Getty Images/Christian Petersen)
Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper ties his shoe in the dugout before the start of a spring training baseball game against the New York Mets Monday, Feb. 28, 2011, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper ties his shoe in the dugout before the start of a spring training baseball game against the New York Mets Monday, Feb. 28, 2011, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Jeff Roberson)
PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 10:  U.S. Futures All-Star Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals hits a ground ball in the third inning of the 2011 XM All-Star Futures Game at Chase Field on July 10, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
U.S. Futures All-Star Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals hits a ground ball in the third inning of the 2011 XM All-Star Futures Game at Chase Field on July 10, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) (Getty Images/Christian Petersen)
Washington Nationals top prospect Bryce Harper signs autographs for fans before the start of the the Nationals  spring training baseball game against the New York Yankees at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., Friday, March 16, 2012.  (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Washington Nationals top prospect Bryce Harper signs autographs for fans before the start of the the Nationals spring training baseball game against the New York Yankees at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., Friday, March 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (AP/Kathy Willens)
Bryce Harper
Washington Nationals Bryce Harper, looks at the baseball field from their dug out before the start of the Nationals last home game of the season against the Miami Marlins in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Bryce Harper
Washington Nationals Bryce Harper, checks his gear before the start of the Nationals last home game of the season against the Miami Marlins in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Bryce Harper
The helmet of Washington Nationals Bryce Harper sits in the dug out box before the start of the Nationals last home game of the season against the Miami Marlins in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Bryce Harper
Washington Nationals Bryce Harper practices his swing during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Bryce Harper
Washington Nationals Bryce Harper (34) bows his head and raise his arms with clenched fists as the Nationals celebrate and bid goodbye to their fans ending their last home game of the season with a 9-3 rain delayed win against the Miami Marlins in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Bryce Harper
Washington Nationals Bryce Harper (34) leaves the field as the Nationals ended their last home game of the season with a 9-3 rain delayed win against the Miami Marlins in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Kyle McGowin
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Kyle McGowin (61) throws during the third inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Victor Robles
Washington Nationals Victor Robles (16) swings his bat and misses during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper runs toward second on his double during the third inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper runs toward second on his double during the third inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass) (AP/Nick Wass)
Ron Harper holds his son Washington Nationals Bryce Harper's trophy after the Major League Baseball Home Run Derby Monday, July 16, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Ron Harper holds his son Washington Nationals Bryce Harper’s trophy after the Major League Baseball Home Run Derby Monday, July 16, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (AP/Patrick Semansky)
Washington Nationals Bryce Harper celebrates his winning hit during the Major League Baseball Home Run Derby, Monday, July 16, 2018 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Washington Nationals Bryce Harper celebrates his winning hit during the Major League Baseball Home Run Derby, Monday, July 16, 2018 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (AP/Alex Brandon)
Bryce Harper
Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper hits a solo home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Nationals Park, Monday, July 2, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (AP/Andrew Harnik)
Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper hits a solo home run in the first inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets, Monday, April 16, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper hits a solo home run in the first inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets, Monday, April 16, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (AP/Kathy Willens)
Bryce Harper
Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper yells at the umpire after flying out during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Nationals Park, Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (AP/Alex Brandon)
(1/30)
Bryce Harper
Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34), runs to the field from the dug out at the start of the Nationals last home game of the season during a baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
In this photo taken April 30, 2010, Bryce Harper plays with College of Southern Nevada Coyotes baseball team in Henderson, Nev. Bryce Harper's story book tale is nearly complete as major league baseball's amateur draft approaches, one year and 29 home runs after Sports Illustrated pegged the teen as the LeBron James of the diamond.  (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
In this photo taken April 30, 2010, Bryce Harper plays with College of Southern Nevada Coyotes baseball team in Henderson, Nev. Seventeen year old Harper is expected to be the first pick in the Major League Baseball draft. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
In this photo taken April 30, 2010, Bryce Harper plays with College of Southern Nevada Coyotes baseball team in Henderson, Nev. Seventeen year old Harper is expected to be the first pick in the Major League Baseball draft. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
SECAUCUS, NJ - JUNE 07:  MLB commissioner Bud Selig announces Bryce Harper as the first overall pick to the Washington Nationals during the MLB First Year Player Draft on June 7, 2010 held in Studio 42 at the MLB Network in Secaucus, New Jersey.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
SECAUCUS, NJ - JUNE 07:  A detailed view of the first overall pick of the Washington Nationals Bryce Harper on the draft board during the MLB First Year Player Draft on June 7, 2010 held in Studio 42 at the MLB Network in Secaucus, New Jersey.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Baseball player Bryce Harper smiles during an interview in Newport Beach, Calif., Monday, June 7, 2010. The Washington Nationals selected junior college slugger Bryce Harper with the No. 1 overall pick in the baseball draft Monday night. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Bryce Harper, smiles, at a news conference where the Washington Nationals basetball team introduced him as their first overall selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, at Nationals Park in Washington Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Ryan Zimmerman, right, helps Bryce Harper put on his new jersery, at a news conference where the Washington Nationals introduced Harper as their first overall selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, at Nationals Park in Washington Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Washington Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman, left, shakes hands with Bryce Harper at a news conference where the Nationals introduced Harper as their first overall selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, at Nationals Park in Washington Thursday, Aug. 26, 2010. Harper  agreed to a $9.9 million, five-year deal with the baseball club last week. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
WASHINGTON - AUGUST 26:  Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals takes batting practice at Nationals Park on August 26, 2010 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Washington Nationals prospect Bryce Harper #34 playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions hits a single against the Phoenix Desert Dogs during the AZ Fall League game at Scottsdale Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper ties his shoe in the dugout before the start of a spring training baseball game against the New York Mets Monday, Feb. 28, 2011, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 10:  U.S. Futures All-Star Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals hits a ground ball in the third inning of the 2011 XM All-Star Futures Game at Chase Field on July 10, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Washington Nationals top prospect Bryce Harper signs autographs for fans before the start of the the Nationals  spring training baseball game against the New York Yankees at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., Friday, March 16, 2012.  (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Bryce Harper
Bryce Harper
Bryce Harper
Bryce Harper
Bryce Harper
Bryce Harper
Kyle McGowin
Victor Robles
Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper runs toward second on his double during the third inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Ron Harper holds his son Washington Nationals Bryce Harper's trophy after the Major League Baseball Home Run Derby Monday, July 16, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Washington Nationals Bryce Harper celebrates his winning hit during the Major League Baseball Home Run Derby, Monday, July 16, 2018 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Bryce Harper
Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper hits a solo home run in the first inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets, Monday, April 16, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Bryce Harper

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 3½ hours before the start of what many expect to be his last game at Nationals Park as a member of the Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper stood at his locker and let his eyes linger on that familiar white jersey with the curly red “W” on the front and his last name on the back.

Then Harper, who can become a free agent at season’s end, put on his full uniform, right down to the stirrups — the only player ready that far ahead of Washington’s 9-3 victory in its home finale against the Miami Marlins, which was stopped Wednesday after seven innings because of rain.

The storm arrived, naturally, as Harper stood in the on-deck circle while the last out of the seventh was recorded.

“I knew I wanted to get here and put the ‘uni’ on right away, and just cherish that moment, if it’s going to be the last time or not,” the outfielder said beforehand. “I can’t really stand here and say it’s going to be ‘farewell’ or anything like that, because nobody knows. Nobody knows what this offseason holds.”

He was greeted by fans’ signs, standing ovations and chants of “Let’s go, Harper!” for each at-bat while going 0 for 4 with a pair of strikeouts.

If this was, indeed, a “goodbye” to Harper, consider it also a “welcome” to someone the Nationals could count on to replace his outfield production, 21-year-old rookie Victor Robles. He delivered the first four-hit game of his nascent career, including a three-run homer and a two-run double, and stole a base, to boot.

The Nationals — 81-78 and, like the Marlins, missing the playoffs — close the season with a three-game series at Colorado.

“This is my home. This is my city,” said Harper, the only NL player with 100 RBIs, 100 runs and 100 walks in 2018. “Being able to come here — of course, I root for the Golden Knights and I root for Duke and I root for the Cowboys and things like that — but, I’m a Washington National.”

They drafted him No. 1 overall at age 17 in 2010, then called him up to the majors at 19. He was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2012, then a unanimous MVP selection in 2015.

A team that lost 100 games in a season twice before Harper came aboard won four NL East titles with the slugger (although never won a playoff series).

He sparked raucous celebrations at his home stadium when he won the Home Run Derby during All-Star weekend this July.

“It’s like I’m standing here like a 35-year old, but I’m only 25. So it’s the first time going through something like this, of course. I’ve never done it in my life — possibly playing my last game somewhere, anything like that, and it really means something to me,” Harper said.

Asked what it would take for him to return to Washington, Harper said: “I’ve got to know if I’m in” the team’s plans.

“Everybody knows what could possibly happen,” he added. “I could be out of here or I could be back.”

Needless to say, folks such as Nationals manager Dave Martinez and Harper’s teammates would prefer the latter.

“He’s got an unbelievable future ahead of him. Hopefully, it’s here with the Nationals. We all hope for that,” Martinez said. “What he’s meant for the city — if you take a look around the stadium and see how many number 34s kids wear and fans wear, that should tell you everything.”

First baseman Ryan Zimmerman thinks Harper would like to remain.

“If you talk to him about D.C. and this organization, how comfortable he feels here and what kind of team I think he feels we’re going to have, I don’t think it’s a matter of him wanting to stay. It’s about economics,” Zimmerman said. “He deserves to get every penny that he can get. Hopefully, it’s here. Who knows?”

As Harper wrapped up his lengthy and wistful pregame session with reporters, outfielder Adam Eaton shuffled into the clubhouse.

“Did we have a doubleheader today?” Eaton teased. “Hey, yo, you ready to go or what?”

Until it’s been determined, Harper’s 2019 destination will be the talk of baseball.

STAT LINES

In his first start in the majors, Washington RHP Kyle McGowin left after walking the first two batters in the fifth inning. He gave up no runs and just one hit. Wander Suero (4-1) got the win with one inning of scoreless relief. Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen (6-12) went four innings, allowing four earned runs and seven hits.

MINOR AWARDS

Nationals C Spencer Kieboom’s younger brother, Carter, was the club’s minor league player of the year, while LHP Ben Braymer and RHP Wil Crowe shared minor league pitcher of the year honors.

UP NEXT

Marlins: RHP Corey Oswalt (3-3, 6.08) starts Friday’s series opener at the Mets.

Nationals: RHP Joe Ross (0-1, 4.09 ERA) pitches Friday at the Rockies.

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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