Aug 17, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals center fielder Bryce Harper (34) before the game against the New York Mets at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE
Bryce Harper's going to have to be as sexy as he can be on the bench tonight. (ed. note - "What? You haven't heard Harper's latest gem of a catchphrase? That's what he told a group of young baseball players at a youth baseball clinic. He also donated $2500 to the cause which he hopefully publicized some with his attention-grabbing 'advice.'") Harper went 2 for 3 with a two-run HR and a walk in last night's win, breaking an 0 for 11 streak with a fourth inning single before homering the next time up. But Davey Johnson informed Harper that he would be sitting out tonight for the second game of three with the Mets in D.C.
"I thought [Harper] acquitted himself pretty good on the road, " Davey Johnson said, "swung the bat pretty good. The last game he went 0-for he hit a couple balls on the line. I told him after the game, 'Great game, except you have to hit the cutoff man, that's a no-no, and I'm going to give you tomorrow off.' And he took it on the bench. He's already jumped over to one of my coaches saying, 'I'm not tired!' But that's good that he feels that way."
The cutoff man comment was a reference to an ill-advised throw in from the outfield last night on Mets' infielder Danny Murphy's two-out, two-run single in the first. Harper charged the grounder up the middle of the field and came up throwing, sending the ball sailing over home and allowing Murphy to take an extra base early in the game. As for why Harper was sitting today, the Nats' skipper said that he simply wanted to get each of his outfielders some ABs, plus the Nats are facing New York lefty Jon Niese. "I want to get Tyler Moore some at bats," Johnson explained.
"It's 25 guys. I've said it a hundred times. You don't just win with eight. And I'll be doing the same thing getting [Steve Lombardozzi] in there. I'll probably play Lombo on Sunday and rest [Ian Desmond]. It's good. Everybody's contributed so far and I'm not gonna just forget about they guys that had a pretty defined role until we got all healthy. We're in a good place. It's where good teams need to be."
Harper's line against left-handers probably makes it an easier decision to give the 19-year-old outfielder a day off now. After a strong start against left-handed pitchers, Harper currently has a .227/.295/.390 line against lefties this year. He's struggled overall in the second-half, with a .183/.271/.278 line in 33 games and 145 PA's. Coming off a strong game, Johnson thought it was a good time to let Harper rest for a day. "I could have sat him the first [game]," Johnson said, "But he had a great game and it's, 'Now just relax. Catch your breath. Let me let some of these other guys get in too."
After last night's game, Harper has a .249/.325/.406 line on the season with 16 doubles, 5 triples and 11 HR's in 96 games and 422 plate appearances.