- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 30, 2016

Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper received a scheduled day off in Thursday night’s series opener against the Cincinnati Reds. Chris Heisey will start and is batting seventh.

Manager Dusty Baker announced the decision Thursday afternoon, citing the 2015 National League MVP’s “tough series” against the New York Mets earlier this week.

“Harper doesn’t get many [days off], and I figured today’s a day,” Baker said. “He had a tough series, he got banged up, legs are a little tired. It’s that time of the year.”

Harper went a combined 4-for-9 and drove in three runs in Washington’s three-game sweep of its NL East rival, but ran awkwardly into first base completing a single on Monday and fouled a ball off his leg.

“He jumped at the bag at first base and twisted his ankle, and you don’t just heal overnight. At this point you’re very lucky if something is not aching or ailing you, so that comes with playing everyday,” Baker said. “It comes with what kind of attitude you have and it comes with what kind of mental strength you have to play through things, and he’s been playing through things the last couple of days.”

Ben Revere — who matched a career-high four hits and three stolen bases against the Mets on Monday — will also get the day off, replaced by Michael A. Taylor in center field.

With the lineup tweaks, Baker is happy to be getting his usual pinch hitters more involved.

“I want to get Michael [Taylor] some at bats, also wanted to give [Chris] Heisey some at bats because he’s the guy who’s had the least amount of at bats probably of anybody in the last couple of weeks,” Baker said. “I can tell he’s gotten a little rusty when I call upon him to pinch hit.”

Heisey entered Thursday’s game batting .161 across 68 total at bats this season. Taylor is hitting .235 with 12 RBI in 183 plate appearances.

• Mark Eisenhauer can be reached at meisenhauer@washingtontimes.com.

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