ATLANTA -- Don’t bet on seeing Bryce Harper in the Home Run Derby next month.
Although he put on a show last season in Washington en route to winning the annual homer-hitting contest on the eve of the All-Star Game, Harper said over the weekend that it’s doubtful he will participate again this year even if Major League Baseball invites him to defend his crown.
“I kind of told them that I was only going to do it one year,” the Phillies’ star right fielder said. “It’s just so tiring.”
One Phillies player who will happily take part again: Rhys Hoskins. A first-time Derby contestant last year, he advanced to the semifinals before losing by one dinger to Chicago Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber.
“I wouldn’t hesitate,” said Hoskins, who leads the Phillies with 15 homers. “It was a great event. Hopefully I get to do it again. It was a lot of fun.”
Neither Harper nor Hoskins has been asked yet to compete in the Derby, scheduled for July 8 at Progressive Field in Cleveland. Hoskins said he wasn’t approached about it last year until about two weeks before the event.
Despite not being selected to play in the All-Star Game last year, Harper signed on for the Derby because the Nationals were the host and he had become the face of the franchise. Harper doesn’t have a personal connection to Cleveland.
Several superstars have been reluctant to participate in recent seasons. MLB is adding a financial incentive this year by awarding a $1 million prize to the winner.