By Rick Morrissey and Gordon Wittenmyer
WASHINGTON — The Las Vegas concert massacre has weighed heavily on Kris Bryant, and not just because he grew up there.
The fiancée of his wife’s brother was there when a man starting shooting from a nearby hotel, killing 58 people. She was celebrating her sister’s birthday; they escaped uninjured.
“My soon-to-be sister-in-law was there running with the crowd,’’ the Cubs third baseman said. “A lot of friends, man. I’ve heard a lot of stories. Some friends thankfully weren’t hurt, but so many people were hurt. It’s sad to think about some people’s kids and parents aren’t going to be there anymore.’’
Nationals star Bryce Harper, a childhood friend of Bryant’s in Las Vegas, plans to wear custom-made cleats — including the inscription “Pray for Las Vegas” — to honor the victims when he takes the field Friday for the Nationals-Cubs playoff opener.
Bryant said he might wear something similar.
“It’s been scary, watching the news and watching the numbers rise,” Bryant said of the last few days. “You never think it’s going to happen to anywhere where you’re from or where you live, and then it does.
“It broke my heart, man. I was up all night. Thankfully, the people that were there that we knew got back to us really.”
Harper wore a hoodie with #VegasStrong across the front during workouts Thursday.
“It’s been pretty surreal,” he said. “Just talking to friends, talking to family that were definitely at the concert, and seeing things that have happened and transpired from that, it just goes to show how strong our community is in Vegas and how much of a small-knit community it can be.”
Game 1: Strasburg
The Nats said Thursday that Stephen Strasburg will start Game 1 against Kyle Hendricks on Friday, but the rest of the rotation decisions were held up by the ongoing drama surrounding Max Scherzer’s hamstring strain.
Left-hander Gio Gonzalez is expected to start Game 2 on Saturday for the Nats, with Scherzer pushed back to at least Game 3. But the Nats are keeping it fluid until they’re certain Scherzer isn’t well enough to pitch Saturday.
“It’s huge,” Bryant said of Scherzer being pushed back in the series and likely eliminating him from
Game 5 consideration. “Obviously, you don’t want somebody to get hurt or anything like that.
“But hopefully we can use it to our advantage by not facing him twice.”