Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones on Tuesday was named to replace Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp on the National League All-Star roster.
And that might help Las Vegas native and Washington Nationals phenom Bryce Harper also make the NL squad.
Jones had been a candidate to be voted onto the team by fans in baseball’s Final Vote campaign, with Harper also on the ballot. Now Jones, 40, is replacing Kemp, who is on the disabled list with a hamstring injury but plans to participate in the All-Star home run derby.
Jones, who plans to retire after the season, said his eighth All-Star berth “was a complete surprise.”
The All-Star Game will be played Tuesday at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium. Jones said it is the only current stadium in the major leagues in which he has not played.
Harper now hopes to win the Final Vote. He is captivating. He plays at full-speed, daring to be aggressive even when it backfires. But he earned immeasurable respect Sunday when he said he would vote for the retiring Jones over himself in the online balloting.
Harper has a fan in Jones. Harper said Tuesday that he received a text message from Jones appreciating his kind words. Still, Harper said he’s getting votes from friends and family, and the Nationals have launched a vote-for-Harper campaign.
Harper is now among four players vying for the final spot on the NL bench.
“Of course, I want to be there,” Harper said. “But if it doesn’t work out, I’ve got hopefully 20 years in my career that I’ll get back there.”
In fact, Harper wouldn’t mind having a long mental break in Las Vegas.
“I think it’ll be good for me to go home and get away from the world and just be Bryce, be normal, just hang out with the family and get some good home-cooked meals,” he said.