Bryce Harper sat out of the finale of the Washington Nationals three-game set with the Philadelphia Phillies in Citizens Bank Park after admitting to Nats' manager Davey Johnson that his sore left hip was "barking." As the Nationals' 70-year-old skipper explained to reporters, including the Washington Times' Amanda Comak, he's always been careful to avoid having little problems turn into bigger issues.
"'I’m a firm believer that if somebody has had a little aggravation, if it’s bothering him a little bit, I’m going to rest him,'" Johnson explained, "'It could lead to a bigger injury and then he misses more time.'" The manager would, of course, prefer to have Harper in the lineup, but in a season in which Harper played with an injured knee until he couldn't any more then missed over a month on the DL waiting for it to heal, the Nationals are taking a cautious approach with the 2010 no.1. overall pick.
Apparently, they are also willing to listen to him when he says he's good to go as well. Washington Post reporter Adam Kilgore wrote on Twitter this afternoon that the Nats' outfielder, who has a .275/.378/.507 line after 100 games and 424 plate appearances this season over which he's been worth +3.6 fWAR with 20 doubles, three triples and 19 HRs, talked his way into the lineup for the first game of three with the Marlins in Miami tonight:
There's white-out all over the Nats' lineup card. Harper was out, talked his way in, per bench coach Randy Knorr. "I like it," Knorr says.— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) September 6, 2013
Wednesday night's game in Philadelphia was the first Harper's sat out entirely since July 24th when he sat for one of the Nationals' four game set with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Since that game, he's posted a .292/.394/.511 line in 37 games and 161 plate appearances, over which he's collected 10 doubles, a triple and six home runs. Harper will play his 101st game tonight. In 2012, he played 139 games total, posting a .270/.340/.477 line with 26 doubles, nine triples and 22 HRs and he finished his rookie campaign at +4.5 fWAR.
Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Holden Kushner this past Wednesday that in spite of some of the drama about not hustling to first and in spite of the injuries, he's extremely pleased with what the second-year major leaguer has accomplished so far this season. "He's in territory now that he's very rarely been in, or never been in," Rizzo explained, "and that's playing this deep into the season, this many games and this many at bats. So, it's an adjustment period for him and I think he's handling it well, playing through some injuries and playing extremely well."
"If you look at his numbers," Rizzo continued, "this guy's OPS (.885 up over .817 last season), he's in the top of outfielders and playing a really good brand of baseball for us." If he had enough plate appearances to qualify for NL Leaderboard, his .885 OPS would rank 5th overall in the National League, behind only the Reds' Shin-Soo Choo (.891 OPS), the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen (.911), teammate Jayson Werth (.920) and the Rockies' Michael Cuddyer (.929).
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