“[I] went to look at it again today and it still looked good to me,” Johnson deadpanned before Thursday’s game.
To Johnson, the decision was clear and obvious: Move Harper to the third spot in the lineup. He has earned it, hitting 5 of 13 through four games, and provided a needed spark to an often dormant offense.
“I don’t really have any words for it,” Harper said. “It’s just another spot in the lineup. Just try to take the same approach.”
But, according to Johnson, Harper wasn’t as nonchalant about the change as he was leading on. A Nationals coach told Johnson that Harper’s eyes widened as he saw his name under Steve Lombardozzi. “It wasn’t like he just looked at it and just walked by,” Johnson said.
Harper, who said he hit lower in the batting order during some minor league stops, insisted that hitting third would change nothing about how he swings and approaches pitchers.
Asked why he opted for the move, Johnson answered plainly: “Why not?”
“He’s swinging the bat good and had quality at bats. It’s what you do. I don’t care if his name is Harper or whatever or how old he is. If you’re swinging the bat good, we’re trying to put out guys who are swinging the bat best in order to do the most damage. He acquitted himself against a couple left-handers, some pretty good left-handers. He swung the bat good against the other guys, too. He looks like a pretty good choice.”
More on Bryce Harper:
Journal: Harper batting third on Thursday