With Ian Desmond playing his second straight game since returning from the disabled list on Friday and the rest of the lineup intact, the Nationals will have plenty of firepower.

Harper, who is used to playing everyday, wasn’t happy about having to sit again. He has been mired in a second-half slump, the worst and longest of his young career and Johnson is trying to find ways to give him a break, more so a mental one than a physical one. When Johnson said he would give Desmond the day off on Sunday, he cracked a joke about Harper.

“Don’t tell [Desmond] that,” Johnson said. “I’ve already got one guy wanting to choke me to death.”

Johnson was asked if he thought Harper would understand what he was doing with him and the manager quickly responded with a laugh: “No.”

“I was just talking to him with [third base coach] Bo [Porter],” Johnson continued. “Bo said, ‘He’ll bang his head on that concrete wall until the wall goes down.’

“I think he will understand. It’s good for him to try to learn that he’s very important but we do things that we think are the best for not only him for other members on the ball club.”


1. Jayson Werth, CF

2. Danny Espinosa, 2B

3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B

4. Michael Morse, RF

5. Adam LaRoche, 1B

6. Ian Desmond, SS

7. Tyler Moore, LF

8. Jesus Flores, C

9. Edwin Jackson, C


1. Ruben Tejada, SS

2. Mike Baxter, RF

3. David Wright, 3B

4. Ike Davis, 1B

5. Daniel Murphy, 2B

6. Jordany Valdespin, LF

7. Andres Torres, CF

8. Josh Thole, C

9. Jonathon Niese, SP