Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013 | 2 a.m.
During Major League Baseball's offseason, Bryce Harper spends most — if not all — of his time in Southern Nevada.
Those days are numbered, however, as Harper is scheduled to report to spring training in Florida this week.
Before joining his Washington Nationals teammates, the 20-year-old made a stop Friday in Henderson to receive an honor from Findlay Toyota. The car dealership proclaimed it Bryce Harper Day.
Along with signing autographs and talking to fans, Harper presented a $2,500 check to the Miracle League, which helps children with cognitive and physical challenges play baseball.
“It’s a lot of fun to rep the 702,” Harper said, referring to Las Vegas' area code. “I love coming out here and doing things like this.”
Harper, who attended Las Vegas High School and the College of Southern Nevada, batted .270 with 22 home runs to earn the designation of 2012 National League Rookie of the Year. He also was the youngest position player to be selected to a Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
He took a few minutes away from Friday's ceremony to talk to the Sun.
What’s the first thing you do in Las Vegas when you come back to town?
Lay in my bed. Coming home after a long season, it gets mentally grinding and pretty tough.
What are some of your favorite restaurants here?
The biggest one we don’t have in D.C. is In-N-Out. That’s great food on the West Coast. I love going over there and getting me a burger. But Café Rio and little places like that (are where I go when I come home). I love my mama’s cooking, too. She cooks every single night, so it’s huge for me to get good food into me.
What do you do when you aren't playing baseball?
I try and hang out with my family as much as I can. Mentally, it gets kind of hard during the season. It wears you down a lot. You come home and try and relax and have some fun.
What was the biggest adjustment moving to the major league?
Mentally, it was a grind all year. Physically, I felt fine and good.
What are your goals for this year?
I’ve never really cared about myself or anything that my numbers say. I want to do well and succeed. But as a team, we have a shot to play in the World Series and get deep into the playoffs. Hopefully we can fulfill that dream of getting that World Series ring and bringing a trophy back to D.C. That’s the biggest thing on my mind and was the biggest thing on my mind last year.