Nats' Bryce Harper on Las Vegas tragedy: 'It definitely hits home'

WASHINGTON -- For the first time since last weekend's mass shooting in Las Vegas, Bryce Harper spoke to reporters about the tragic events in his hometown.

"It's been pretty surreal," said Harper, who grew up in Vegas and attended Las Vegas High, about 15 miles from the Mandalay Bay Hotel, where a gunman on the 32nd floor of the hotel opened fire on the crowd at an outdoor country music festival and killed 58 people and injured about 500. "Just from talking to friends, talking to family that were definitely at the concert and seeing the things that have happened and transpired from that, it just goes to show how strong our community is in Vegas, how much of a small-knit community it can be."

Included in that community is fellow Las Vegas native and reigning MVP Kris Bryant, whose Chicago Cubs will face Harper's Washington Nationals in the NL Division Series starting on Friday.

Bryant said his "soon-to-be sister-in-law was there, and running right in the crowd'' at last Sunday's attack. Friends of his were there, too, Bryant said.

On Thursday, Harper took batting practice wearing a black Under Armour sweatshirt with the message "#VEGASSTRONG" on the front. Shortly after, Harper sent out a message on Twitter saying, "Vegas this is for you," featuring a photo of him holding a pair of special edition Under Armour cleats with the phrase "Pray for Las Vegas" inscribed on them.

Harper returned to the Nats lineup on Sept. 25 after missing six weeks with a knee injury. Not long after Sunday's regular-season finale, in which Harper went 2-for-4 with a walk, the shooting in Las Vegas took place. Thursday marked the first time since then that he's spoken with reporters.

"Everybody's pulling on the same rope trying to help anybody they can," Harper said. "It's definitely an unbelievable thing to happen. You never want that to happen to anybody across the world or anything like that, and for it to happen in your hometown, it definitely hits home."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.