Bryce Harper will receive his second day in three games Saturday night, Manager Davey Johnson said. Johnson insisted Harper is fine, and that he only wanted to give Tyler Moore at-bats against Diamondbacks left-hander Wade Miley.
“There’s nothing wrong with Bryce,” Johnson said. “He played a good game and he’ll play [Sunday] against the left-hander [Patrick Corbin]. I’m just telling you up front now so I don’t have to hear all this crap tomorrow.”
With Harper out again, Jayson Werth will lead off and play and center field, Johnson said. Shortstop Danny Espinosa will hit second, customarily Harper’s spot in the lineup.
In the Nationals’ 9-1 win Friday night, Harper went 0 for 2 with a walk, a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the third inning and two RBI. Since the all-star break, Harper is 18 for 104 (.173) with four extra-base hits and 15 walks.
Johnson gave Harper a day off Thursday in order to let him “take a step back.” While Harper has insisted his recent batting funk has not bothered him, Johnson sensed frustration in Harper, especially when he air-mailed an ill-advised throw in the ninth inning Wednesday.
Saturday’s day off, Johnson said, is more about getting Moore in the lineup than about giving Harper a break. Moore has been relegated to strictly a bench role since Werth returned Aug. 2 from his broken wrist. He last started Aug. 3. Friday night, Moore pinch-hit in the ninth inning, doubled and eventually scored. Moore is hitting .296/.361/.519 this season.