May 1, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper (34) bats during the fifth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Nationals Park. The Diamondbacks defeated the Nationals 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE
Last we heard from Washington Nationals' skipper Davey Johnson at the end of last night's walk-off win against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the 69-year-old manager was wondering just how long he was going to keep 19-year-old outfielder Bryce Harper in the seventh spot in the batting order. At the end of last night's post game press conference, the manager joked that he'd spoken to his coaches after watching Harper go 3 for 4 with two doubles to leave him 5 for 14 (.385/.400/.615) in four games, and had asked them if moving the first-year pro down in the order was a good idea. "I was just passing that in front of my coaches," Johnson said, asking them, "'Is it too early?'" And the answer the manager received from his staff? "Nope." Though he smiled as he said it, the Nats' manager apparently wasn't joking. The Nationals (via Twitter @NationalsPR) just released the lineup for tonight's series finale with Arizona and Bryce Harper, who's hit seventh in his first 15 MLB plate appearances, is in a spot usually reserved for the Nationals' Face of the Franchise:
Davey's Lineup/G25/Thu. vs. ARI: Desmond ss, Lombardozzi 3b, Harper lf, LaRoche 1b, Werth rf, Espinosa 2b, Ankiel cf, Ramos c, Detwiler lhp.— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) May 3, 2012
Is it too soon? Too much pressure for the 19-year-old Harper? In his first four games he hasn't shown any sign that he's out of his element and the Nationals need the sort of spark he's provided for their offense thus far. Is Davey Johnson doing the right thing for the Nationals and Harper?