UPDATE: According to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com, Bryce Harper released the following statement about missing NatsFest today:
“I have attended NatsFest each year and always enjoy spending time with Nats fans,” he said. “Due to matters outside of my control, I was unable to attend this year. However, I look forward to attending future fanfest events.”
2:05 p.m. ET: The Nationals are holding their annual NatsFest today, but a couple of high-profile players are not in attendance. One of them is Bryce Harper, who decided to not attend due to his scheduled grievance hearing against the team on Tuesday.
Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com has more on the story:
Harper, on the other hand, appears to have decided himself not to attend. Rizzo said he’s “disappointed” by that development, but acknowledged it’s due to Tuesday’s salary grievance hearing in New York. Earlier in the week, Rizzo was asked if he thought there was a chance the two sides could come to an agreement and avoid the hearing, and he suggested there was some hope of that. Today, I asked him the same question, and he gave a “no comment” response. Reading between the lines, sounds like Tuesday’s hearing is all but certain to take place.
Rizzo had to explain Harper’s absence in some way and who knows what is going on behind the scenes, but whether it’s on purpose or not, they are doing a great job of trying to turn the fans against him. The dynamic between the Nats and Harper continues to be a weird one.
Denard Span, who was previously listed among the participating players, is also absent. However, he just had sports hernia surgery two weeks ago. Jayson Werth is in attendance and is expected to participate in some functions, but he will not address the media due to his appeal for a reckless driving charge in Virginia.