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Mike Trout downplays Bryce Harper’s comments amid tampering talk

Mike Trout appears to want no part in the developing drama surrounding Bryce Harper’s attempt to recruit him to the Philadelphia Phillies, saying he can’t control what his fellow superstar slugger says.

The Los Angeles Angels star was asked Wednesday about Harper’s controversial comments, and to no surprise downplayed all the drama.

“Obviously I saw it,” Trout said, via The Orange County Register. “He’s excited. He’s excited about his team. I have no control over what he says.”

Harper’s recruitment of Trout began immediately upon his signing of a 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies, including during Saturday’s introductory press conference.

Later on SportsRadio 94WIP, Harper boldly stated, “If you don’t think I’m going to call Mike Trout to come to Philly in 2020, you’re crazy.”

The Angels not surprisingly were not pleased with Harper’s talk and asked Major League Baseball to investigate the matter and determine whether or not the comments constituted tampering.

“There is a rule against tampering for a reason,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said Wednesday. “There has been for a long time. I don’t know if it’s a bigger deal or not (now). It’s reported more because of social media, but I don’t know that it’s any bigger of a deal. It’s always been a big deal.”

When asked about the controversy, Harper doubled down on his rhetoric, saying Wednesday, “If I didn’t mean it, I wouldn’t have said it.”

Major League Baseball is closely monitoring the situation, and Harper and/or the Phillies could be fined over his comments. Further, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Wednesday that the league would prefer it if players refrained from engaging in such public acts of recruitment.

Trout’s connection to the Phillies goes far beyond Harper’s desire to join forces. The 27-year-old is a native of Millville, N.J., which is only about an hour outside of Philadelphia.

There has already been speculation that Trout will indeed sign with the Phillies in 2020, but that does not mean he is going to talk about it, nor is Major League Baseball expected to tolerate Harper’s comments.