Toni L. Sandys/TWP
After watching his young star battle through another tough day at the plate, Nationals Manager Davey Johnson said Friday he’ll rest Bryce Harper for the remaining two games of this weekend’s series. Harper was 0 for 4 with a sacrifice fly Friday, and is 0 for 18 since homering in his first at-bat back from injury July 1.
“Both [physically and mentally] he’s just grinding too hard,” Johnson said of Harper. “… he expects a lot of himself, and I think coming back from that long layoff he’s just not as relaxed as you’d like to see him.”
Johnson said Harper, who was sidelined for 31 games with bursitis in his left knee, is “probably not 100 percent physically either,” and believes two games off before the team’s six-game trip to Philadelphia and Miami will give him time to recover physically and reset mentally.
“Since he came off that long layoff, he hasn’t had much of a break,” Johnson said. “I think I just need to back off him a bit.”
Though he didn’t speak to the media after Friday’s game, Harper did head in the direction of Johnson’s office before heading out of the Nationals clubhouse. Perhaps luckily for Johnson, he had stepped out of his office at that moment, but it’s safe to say he’ll be hearing some pleas to play from Harper at some point this weekend.
Chelsea Janes covers high school sports for The Washington Post.