Earlier in the week, Nationals Manager Matt Williams hoped to ease Bryce Harper back into the lineup by hitting him sixth in the lineup but he added he didn’t intend to do that for long. Friday presented a chance to take advantage of a match-up against a right-handed starter and Williams moved Harper to second.
But with a right-hander on the mound again on Saturday, Williams moved Harper back to sixth in the lineup, switching his spot again with Anthony Rendon. The change is a product of Harper looking jumpy at the plate and his timing being “a little tick off,” Williams said.
“He’s just trying to generate a little bit and that makes you move towards the pitcher, which means you don’t see the ball as well as you normally do,” Williams said. “He’ll be good. He’ll be fine.”
Since his return on Monday, Harper is 3 for 15 with one walk and six strikeouts. Against Friday’s starter, right-hander Jason Hammel, Harper went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. Williams believes Harper’s slow start, although not unexpected, is because of the long layoff. Harper missed 57 games with a torn ligament in his left thumb that required surgery.
“It’s lack of at-bats,” Williams said. “You take that time off it’s difficult. He’ll be fine. He’ll get it. It’ll come quickly.”