Bryce Harper was a designated hitter for the first time in his four-year career last night in Tropicana Field, going 0 for 4 with a walk and two Ks in the Washington Nationals' 6-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. Nats' skipper Matt Williams was asked if the pitch that hit him in his left quad on Saturday in Milwaukee affected Harper at the plate and led to him going hitless?
"No," Williams said. "He lined out in the last at bat. I think that it's difficult when you play every day to DH, but it was the only way we could get him in the lineup today to give his leg one more day to rest.
"Fully anticipate he'll be in there tomorrow."
When the lineup was released this afternoon, Harper was indeed back in right field, batting cleanup for the second game of two with the Rays.
|WASHINGTON NATIONALS||TAMPA BAY RAYS|
|Denard Span - CF||Kevin Kiermaier - CF|
|Anthony Rendon - 3B||Joey Butler - DH|
|Yunel Escobar - DH||Evan Longoria - 3B|
|Bryce Harper - RF||David DeJesus - LF|
|Wilson Ramos - C||Logan Forsythe - 2B|
|Clint Robinson - 1B||Steven Souza - RF|
|Danny Espinosa - 2B||Asdrubal Cabrera - SS|
|Michael Taylor - LF||Jake Elmore - 1B|
|Ian Desmond - SS||Rene Rivera - C|
|Tanner Roark - RHP||Alex Colome - RHP|
The Nats' 22-year-old, 2010 no.1 overall pick has played in all-but two games this season, putting together a gaudy .337/.473/.712 line with 13 doubles, 21 home runs, 53 walks and 53 Ks in 62 games and 264 plate appearances.
As the Nationals mention in tonight's game notes, Harper currently leads Major League Baseball in walks, slugging percentage and OPS, is second in home runs and on-base percentage, second in the NL and fourth in MLB in runs scored and third in the National League and the majors in RBIs (with 51). Harper has reached base in 33 of 34 games away from the nation's capital this season.
He's also leading in the voting for the 2015 NL All-Star team, picking up, "2.4 million votes over the last week to remain the NL leading vote-getter with 6,059,827 votes," according to MLB.com's latest update on the results.
Yunel Escobar is the only other National currently in the top five for his position, though it would be a scandal if either Drew Storen and Max Scherzer were left off the NL roster when it's officially announced. There should be a sizeable contingent of Nationals in Cincinnati for this year's edition of the Midsummer Classic.
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