PHOENIX — Washington Nationals rookie Bryce Harper went 79 games without getting a single day off after his call-up to the major leagues. Saturday night in Phoenix he’s going to get his second day off in the last three games.
Harper will sit Saturday night, manager Davey Johnson said after the Nationals’ 9-1 victory on Friday, so that Tyler Moore can get a rare start. Moore was shifted to a bench role when Jayson Werth came off the disabled list and hasn’t started a game since the opener in the Nationals’ doubleheader against the Marlins on Aug. 3.
Harper will get the time off through no fault of his own, though, as he was 0-for-2 Friday night but drove in two runs for the Nationals and walked once.
“I might as well tell you now,” Johnson said after Friday’s game. “I’m going to get Tyler Moore in the lineup because once Werth got here I haven’t had that opportunity.
“There’s nothing wrong with Bryce. He played a good game and he’ll play the day game against the left-hander (Patrick Corbin on Sunday). I’m just telling you up front now so I don’t have to hear all this crap tomorrow.”
With Harper out of the lineup, Johnson said he’d have Werth leading off and playing center field with shortstop Danny Espinosa hitting second in the lineup behind him.
Before Friday’s game, Johnson hinted that he was going to try to get Moore into a few more games as the rookie has been shifted somewhat abruptly to an exclusive bench role. Moore has hit exceptionally well this year for the Nationals, with a .296 average, .361 on-base percentage and .519 slugging, but he’s used to being an everyday player so Johnson wants to be sure to keep him sharp.
Coming off the bench, Moore has hit .308 with three doubles and three RBI.
Now that Jayson’s able to play a little bit more I may pick my spots and give (Harper) a breather,” Johnson said early Friday afternoon. “Not so much for him but maybe to get a Tyler Moore in there… for no other reason than that’s what I’d do for all 25 guys on the roster to keep them sharp.”
Harper sat out of Thursday night’s game in Houston, too, after Johnson felt he was pressing and took some of his emotions from an argument with home plate umpire Angel Hernandez into the field.