Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond pulled out of Tuesday's All-Star Game because of a sore left oblique muscle, but Bryce Harper was added by manager Tony La Russa as a replacement for the injured Giancarlo Stanton.
The decision on Desmond was made in consultation with Nats management, team doctors and trainers and La Russa. Desmond, who was named a reserve to the team last week, is still able to play in regular-season games. He homered and singled in Washington's 4-1 win over Colorado on Saturday.
"It's definitely a tough decision. It's one that we spent quite a few days kind of mulling over," Desmond said. "But in the end I think it's best for the team and best for myself to take the rest. I would hate to be two, three weeks down the road and something happened and I didn't take the four days to rest my body and put the team first."
Desmond was replaced on the NL roster by Atlanta Braves center fielder Michael Bourn. He is still considered an All-Star for historical and contractual purposes because of his injury. But under the new collective bargaining agreement signed by team owners and the MLB Players Association in December, a player who chooses not to participate for any other reason will not maintain the All-Star designation.
Desmond has been playing through the oblique injury since mid-June. He is batting .282 with 24 doubles and has a career-high 16 home runs, including another opposite-field shot in the second inning on Saturday. He also has just 11 errors at shortstop and is on pace to set a career low in that category.
Harper, meanwhile, had expected to take some time off in the midst of a hectic rookie season after he lost a fan vote for the final NL roster spot to St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese. But Stanton's lingering right knee injury will keep him out of the game and LaRussa tapped Harper as the replacement. He is the youngest position player to ever make an All-Star team at 19 years, 275 days.
"I didn't really put any thought into that. But it's pretty cool," Harper said. "I think that's a pretty cool deal. And I'm excited. I really am. I'm really excited to get out there and be around those kind of guys and just try to actually enjoy myself as much as I can and really take it all in."