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Bryce Harper IS playing Saturday (and not getting traded) and other Nationals tidbits

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Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Friday night that he would probably give left fielder Bryce Harper the rest of this weekend’s series against the Padres off.

Harper had a home run in his first at-bat coming off the disabled list on Monday. He hasn’t had a hit since. Johnson noted he didn’t like some of what he was seeing in Harper’s body language.

When Saturday’s lineup was posted, Harper was hitting third and playing left field.

Johnson said Harper sent him a text message and the two talked. After the talk, Johnson felt better about Harper and decided to let him play.  Johnson also noted the text message said play me or trade me.

“Since a trade is out of the question, I decided to play him,” Johnson said, smiling.

Harper WAS joking, we assume. Right Davey? More smiling.  “You have to ask him,” Johnson said.

Since pregame media availability was done by the time Johnson dropped this bombshell, we’re going to just go ahead and take it on faith Harper was joking.

Whatever, he’s playing. And not getting traded,

***

Reliever Ryan Mattheus hopes his return from the disabled list, where he sits with a once-broken pitching hand, comes soon after the All-Star break. He threw off a mound on Friday for the first time and could go out on a rehabiltation assignment in another week.

Mattheus broke the hand punching a locker when the team was in San Diego in mid-May.

The future, he knows, is impossible to predict. One thing Mattheus said he knows for sure is it won’t include punching any more lockers.

“I learned that you’ve got to be smart,” Mattheus said Saturday. “There’s 24 other guys in this room that you have to think about when you’re making decisions like that. If it was an individual sport, something like that would only hurt me.  I hurt 24 other guys in here.

“It was a hard lesson to learn. It is something that will never happen again. I’m going to come back good to go and ready to contribute.”

***

The All-Star teams will be announced Saturday at 6:30 p.m.  We will post the news on Twitter (@WashTimesMike) as soon as we hear it and on here as soon as we can. Since there’s a game that starts at 4 p.m., pace of play may be a factor in how soon we can post here. But tweeting will happen promptly. That we promise.

No inside info, just a guess: Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond for sure, 3-4 others may get some consideration.  Hard to imagine a 44-42 team getting more than three slots.

***

Johnson also revealed Saturday that starter Ross Detwiler had some discomfort during a bullpen session Saturday and his start Monday is up in the air. Dan Haren is eligible to come off the DL and could slide into Detwiler’s slot right away.  Haren threw a simulated game this week and wouldn’t need any rehab starts.  Detwiler has had one stint on the DL with an oblique issue this season.

***

And finally, Saturday’s lineups as ex-Nat Jason Marquis (9-4, 3.74 ERA) faces off against soon-to-be-All-Star Zimmermann (12-3, 2.46)

SAN DIEGO

Everth Carbrera, SS

Will Venable, CF

Carlos Quentin, LF

Chase Headley,3B

Jesus Guzman, 1B

Chris Denorfia, RF

Logan Forsythe, 2B

Yasmani Grandal, C

Jason Marquis, P

NATIONALS

Denard Span, CF

Ian Desmond, SS

Bryce Harper, LF

Ryan Zimmerman, 3B

Adam LaRoche, 1B

Jayson Werth, RF

Anthony Rendon, 2B

Kurt Suzuki, C

Jordan Zimmermann, P

 

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About the Author
Mike Harris

Mike Harris

Washington Times sports editor Mike Harris has more than 30 years experience in the business as a reporter, columnist and manager. He's covered a wide variety of events including two Olympics, horse racing, auto racing, professional and college sports. E-mail him at mharris@washingtontimes.com and follow the section on Twitter @WashTimesSports.

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